This was the flattest portion of expressway in Kalway County, and therefore the most boring. Ash was fluttering softly around us, but only incrementally. I could smell something fumy, and a little ash, but it actually wasn’t as horrific as I imagined a volcanic eruption could be.
“It seems…” I started.
Ms. Hansen was at mind reading again. “This could just be a small eruption. Or the beginning of a big eruption. We did put some space between us and it. Either way, we’re not waiting to find out. Don’t you think so?”
“Right.” I said, trying not to think about how the extra pair of socks Ms. Hansen gave me were bunching around my toes.
“Say, Ms. Hansen?”
“Since we’re on this adventure together you can call me Mave.” She smiled, and it was the first time I saw what appeared to be a softness to her. She had really nice, straight teeth, and lips just the thickness of her red grading pencil, neither too thin nor too thick.
“Mave,” I blushed a little. “Don’t you have anyone you need to call? I mean, to let them know you’re safe?” All grown-ups have cell phones. I even have one, but it is for rides home and emergencies only. As a result, it is sitting on my nightstand currently with a dead battery, as I rarely go anywhere. Mom will have my head–when–IF–I find her.
“My parents live three states away, and I don’t want to worry them yet. Plus I wanna save the batteries, y’know? For if things get real sticky. We may not find anywhere to charge this. Would you like to call your parents?”
“Of course. Just give them our location and see if we can meet them somewhere.”
I try the house phone first. Not likely, as Cinder Ridge sits only about eight miles from our house, but I try anyway.
“This is the Lemore residence…” I hear the voice mail repeat and wonder if I will hear my mother’s real voice again. I leave a short message, telling the voice mail I am safe and will call again later. I start tearing up, but try both Mom and Steve’s cell phones. Ringing, then an operator’s voice, “Due to a state of emergency this service is not currently available. Please try again later.” Of course, everyone must be trying to call their families. I exhale painfully.
“One more…” I say. The phone rings on the other end.
“Elaine?! Oh, Elaine! Thank God it’s Elaine!” Sarah’s voice sounds jubilant over the end of the phone. She’s been seeing Dad for three months. I haven’t met her yet, but we’ve talked on the phone. Dad must’ve snatched the phone because the next voice I hear is his.
“Elaine?” I hear Dad exhale like I had just done. “Thank God sweetie. Thank God you’re okay. Where are you? Who are you with?”
I recount my adventure thus far. I can almost hear Dad nodding on the other end. “Mave is good people. I’m so glad honey, you’ll be fine with her. Did you reach your Mom? Steve?” he gulps in air, “Your sister? Is she okay?”
“I don’t know, Dad. I was hoping you had heard something.” The other end of the line is silent. I feel myself tearing up again.”Hey Dad? I’m going to try to save the batteries on Ms. Hansen’s phone so we can talk later. You have the number?”
“Let me see…yes, the caller id saved it. Yes…yes…I have it. 555-0926?” His voice sounds exactly as I feel, confused and weary.
I repeat the number to Ms.–Mave, and she nods.
“Yup. Hey, we’re walking to Longville. Ms.–Mave says we should be there by evening. Between six and seven hopefully. We’re along Expressway 2, ummmm…right now just past milemarker forty-seven. Okay?”
“Okay sweetie, I love you so much.”
“I love you too Dad. Maybe we can stay with you at the end of this trip.”
“I’d like that. Tell Mave thank you for taking care of my little girl. Bye, honey.” I’m glad he hangs up, because I don’t have the wherewithal to push the button. I want to hold on to that call forever.
Mave winks at me. “We’ll find the rest of them. It’s just the lines in the immediate area we can’t access because the emergency is so fresh. We’ll hear from them tomorrow morning, I’m sure.
I stumble a bit in the bright green sneakers, wishing Miranda was here to tell me how clumsy I am and how my feet are humongous.