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“Someday you’re going to get into the wrong car and ride off into the wrong sunset,” Mom told me. She was good at pronouncements like that. We were at the farm, probably in the kitchen roasting a chicken and simmering rice for dinner when she said this. I would’ve been 19, the age she was when she had me. She could have been right; there are any number of scenarios that could have fit her statement, although I don’t remember telling her about any of them.
When I was younger and needed to get somewhere new, my mother would say, "I'll draw you a map." On a scrap of paper torn from a notebook or a grocery list she drew whole landscapes for me to enter, her first-born, speeding down country roads, one hand on the Chevy's gearshift, another holding her drawing to the light as if to lay it upon the road itself. Like a dress I once made from her pattern though sewing was never my thing, I translated her: left at stone church, its spire reaching to the torn edge of the page; right where belted cows graze along a stream, their tiny faces animated with horns, and eyes, and soft cow mouths, one even reaching for a juicy clump of grass – she drew pictures of dirt roads and farm lanes, apple trees and falling rock fences, her markers were abandoned gas stations with pumps drawn like bubble-headed cartoon people and gothic- styled farmhouses, never roads with names or numbers. And still I arrived at her destination.
We travelled in one mind back then, she and I, and I never knew I was lost.
Susan Morehouse’s fiction and creative nonfiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Hippocampus Magazine, New Ohio Review, Sycamore Review, Beloit Fiction Journal, Microfiction Monday, 101 words, and elsewhere. She teaches creative writing at Alfred University in western New York, where she also directs the Young Writers’ Summer Institute. She is presently at work on a novel set in West Virginia.