Four Hours South of Fayetteville

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]f you ride I-95 south from Fayetteville you’ll eventually hit Savannah. And, if you make the drive at night, it’s easy. The highway is almost empty. You can travel ninety-one miles per hour if you want.

That’s exactly what my mother did.

After my father died, Mother was a raw nerve. If anyone looked at her wrong, she’d either cuss or break down in tears. You never knew which to expect. As a result, things between her and my aunt grew tense.

One night in Fayeteville, my aunt and my mother erupted into an all-out brawl. It wasn’t pretty. In truth, my aunt had it coming. She was a spiteful little thing. But I knew it wasn’t all her fault.

The truth was, my mother just needed someone to yell at.

Mother squealed out of my aunt’s driveway and shot her arm out the window. She used a finger I didn’t even know she had. And we were gone.

We drove until we hit a dilapidated motel in Savannah.

“We’re not going home.” Mother said. “Not yet. We’re going to have fun, dammit.” She wiped the running mascara from her eyes. “Fun!”

And that’s what we did.

For two weeks, Savannah was our Disneyworld. We went on haunted tours, visited historic homes, and ate expensive food. And one day, we even took a road trip to Tybee Island. A thirty-minute drive east toward the Atlantic. When we crossed over the first bridge, Mother slammed on the brakes and pulled over.

She was silent.

We were all bone-silent.

And that was the first time we saw the ocean.

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