The family begins a winter road trip to visit old friends, including Debbie’s best friend, Francie.
Phil calls dibs on the cubbyhole space in the back of the station wagon. I’m willing to “sit on the hump” next to the infant car seat where I can watch over Krista, so Wayne will start out on my left sitting behind Daddy. We rotate seats every two hours. I love road trips. Except right now, my teeth chatter because Daddy hasn’t turned on the engine to warm up the car. I burrow into my heavy coat letting my breath warm my face.
Daddy stands outside cinching the tarp over the suitcases on the roof. Mom opens the front passenger door and hands me a bag filled with snacks which I place on the floor in front of the car seat. Then she hands me the diaper bag. “Put this next to the snacks.”
I pull the snack bag back on my lap, put the diaper bag on the floor, and shove it toward the door, and then squeeze the food in next to it. There.
With a nod, Mom hops in the car and slams her door against the sub-zero temperatures. She plants a gigantic purse on the bench seat between her and Daddy, sets the thermos of coffee on the floor to the left of her feet, and stuffs an empty paper bag between her seat and the door. Daddy opens the driver’s side, and a gust of wind freezes my face again. Once he’s behind the steering wheel and everything is sealed against the cold, Daddy looks back at us.
“Ready?” He turns the key in the ignition.
Phil, wrapped in his sleeping bag, feet against the “entertainment” box, gives a thumbs-up. Wayne nods.
“Ummmm, Daddy?” I look at the empty car seat.
“What did you forget, Debbie?”
“I think we forgot Krista. She’s not here.”
Mom shrieks a prayer to the Almighty as she flings open her door and runs for the house, then back with a blanket-bundled package. Krista makes sleepy little moans while Mom straps her into the seat, but as soon as the car moves, she drifts back into slumber, and our journey to the Frozen North begins.
To read excerpt 15, click here.