Today I’m sharing one of my older stories with you. An earlier version of “One Foggy Night” was published in the 2017 Crowder Quill. This story will be further edited and included in my upcoming story collection. I’ll share more information about that later.
The house is completely gone now. The current property owner demolished what was left and disposed of the rubble, but I can still see the outline of where that cozy little cabin once stood. Progress is great, but I miss the charm of the ruins.
I hope my story brings you joy and gives you a respite from the craziness that surrounds us. If you’re interested in more of my work, I have stories in each of the books for which ads are attached.
Fog clung to the country road in thick clouds as Nikki drove wearily home from her mother’s house where they had spent the entire day scrapbooking. It was drizzling just enough to require the use of her wipers.
She contemplated the project she and her mother had embarked upon as she navigated the winding road ahead. There were hundreds of pictures that needed sorted and labeled. They were supposed to be ready for family viewing by Christmas.
Lost in her thoughts, she didn’t see the large buck running across the road in front of her. She slammed on her brakes and turned the wheel sharply to the right. She missed the deer, but there was no shoulder on the steep hill.
She felt herself snap into place as her seat belt tightened. Her air bag deployed as the car rolled down the hill like a child’s toy to the valley below. She could see only dust from the air bag and hear the sickening creaking and crunching of her car’s body being destroyed as she continued to roll down the hill.
Silence filled the air when the car finally came to a stop, and for a moment Nikki thought she must have perished. After the dust settled a bit, she performed a mental survey of her body noting several cuts, scrapes, and some pain where the seat-belt had tightened across her chest, but nothing life threatening. Slowly releasing her seat belt, she turned off the key and forced her car door open.
Perusing her surroundings, she could see only darkness. She attempted to use her cell phone to call for help, but had no service in the valley. She took a deep breath and got moving.
She realized the hill back up to the road was too steep to climb, so she decided to walk through the valley and search of a likely place for a phone. She reasoned that she must be miles from the nearest house, and her car would be invisible in this thick fog. She feared freezing to death if she didn’t find help, so she hastened her steps. Her cell phone’s flash light app provided a little light.
She shivered from the cold as the drizzle soaked through her clothes. She didn’t want her husband, Tom, to find her frozen dead body in the morning. She forced herself to keep going with a determination to survive.
Just as Nikki was about to give in to her overwhelming urge to cry, she spotted a faint light in the distance. She hurried toward the source of the light. She was overcome with relief when she saw a small cabin. A thin plume of smoke curled from the chimney as the flame from a hurricane lamp danced merrily in the window. She said a quick prayer that the cabin was not inhabited by an ax murderer and knocked softly.
The door opened slowly to reveal a pleasant looking middle-aged woman dressed in a red vintage house dress and shockingly bright red lipstick. She looked like an older version of Nikki with her dark hair braided in one thick rope that reached her waist and dark brown eyes shining in her pleasant round face.
She smiled sweetly as she asked, “Are you lost, dear?”
“Actually,” Nikki began in a wobbly voice, “I just had a car accident and was hoping to use your phone to call for help.”
The lady opened the door wider and beckoned Nikki inside. “It must be thirty degrees out there, and you are soaked to the skin! Come inside and warm yourself for a bit. We’ll see if we can find a phone after you stop shivering. I’m afraid I don’t have one, and the nearest neighbor is a good five miles away.”
Hesitating for only a moment, she entered the cozy cabin. “Thank you very much.” She pressed close the antique pot belly stove in the living room, soaking up the blissful warmth. “My name’s Nikki, and I sure do appreciate your kindness.”
“Not at all, dear!” the woman cried. “You can call me Lizzie. My goodness, you look like you got a little banged up. Have a seat by the fire, and I’ll fetch some iodine.”
Too exhausted to argue at that point, she sank down into an antique rocking chair near the stove. She sighed as the wood heat seeped into her body, easing the ache from her limbs.
Lizzie soon returned with iodine, a wash cloth, a cup of water, and a tea bag. They chatted as Lizzie cleaned the worst of Nikki’s cuts and scratches while the tea steeped on the stove until Lizzie deemed it ready.
“No home remedy is complete without a cup of hot tea,” Lizzie insisted. “It will warm your bones and calm your spirit.”
Sipping the hot tea, Nikki listened to Lizzie’s stories about how her children were always suffering from some injury or another when they were small, and how much she missed them since they grew up and moved away.
Succumbing to exhaustion, Nikki fell asleep in the rocking chair with the empty tea cup still in her hand. She thought she felt someone remove the cup, cover her with a blanket, and kiss her on the forehead just before she drifted off completely, but she wasn’t certain.
The next morning, Nikki awoke in her car where it had come to rest in the valley. She looked around in confusion, wondering if she had dreamed everything about Lizzie and the little cabin. Adding to her confusion, she felt inexplicably warm, considering the car was covered in a thin layer of ice.
She sat stunned for a moment as she realized that she was snuggled under a red and white hand-made quilt that she had never seen before. The airbag was deflated enough to allow for easy movement. A glance in the rear view mirror revealed lip prints on her forehead where someone wearing bright red lipstick had kissed her.
She looked all around, but could find no logical explanation for the quilt or the lipstick. Trying to make sense of the night before, Nikki was startled by someone knocking on her car window. She turned toward the sound to find her worried husband attempting to open the car door. She practically ripped the door off its hinges getting out of the car and jumped into his arms.
“I was so worried about you!” Tom whispered, holding her tightly.
“How in the world did you find me?” Nikki asked, taking in his pale face, lined with worry and dark circles beneath his blue eyes.
“I drove up and down all of the roads between our house and your mom’s for most of the night. I was just about to call all of our family and friends when I saw that I’d somehow missed a call. A woman left a voice mail telling me exactly where to find you. She didn’t leave a name, and I didn’t recognize her voice. I’m just happy she called.”
After being rescued, she caught a few hours of sleep and a hot shower. Nikki woke up feeling good enough to help her mother scrapbook some more. This time they worked at Nikki’s house. She caught her breath as she lifted one particular photo.
“Mom, who is this person? Where is that cabin?” Nikki asked anxiously.
Nikki’s mom looked at the photo. “That’s my grandma. Her name was Elizabeth, but everyone called her Lizzie. That’s the cabin where she lived most of her life. She died when I was a baby, so I don’t remember her. I do know that her favorite color was red, and she loved her red lipstick.” A small smile brightened her face.
“My mother always said Grandma felt like a movie star in her red lipstick. The older folks still talked about it when I was a little girl because they thought such a color was scandalous. I bet she’s even wearing it in that picture, but you can’t tell because it’s in black and white. You look quite a bit like her.”
Nikki felt faint as she whispered, “That’s the woman who saved me, and she’s standing in front of the cabin where I spent the night.”
Her mom patted her hand. “No one has lived in that cabin in many years, and you spent the night in your car, honey. Maybe you aren’t up for this project today after all. I’ll just get out here, so you can get some rest.”
Later that afternoon, Nikki drove Tom’s truck to the crash site and searched the area. She was sore from her accident, but she was determined to find proof of her sanity.
After searching for about an hour, she located the remains of a cabin. A small piece of one wall was still standing, but the remainder had been reduced to a pile of rubble. She dug through the debris, searching for something – what, she didn’t know. She moved some boards and beneath them found the old pot belly stove. It was covered in the dirt and debris of many years, but she was absolutely certain she had found the right place.
Nikki stood looking at the stove and the remains of the cabin for a long time before she whispered, “Thank you, Grandma Lizzie.”
The wind suddenly picked up, and Nikki swore she heard the whispered reply, “You are welcome, Baby Girl.”
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