Edge of the World Ch. 01

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Ass

“You’re kidding!” Jessica pleaded.

She stood in one of the rarest locations left in America: a phone booth. Stranger still, a small line was waiting for her to finish up. In front of an old, dingy gas station normally avoided by most, the relic of times past was one of the few remaining phone lines that hadn’t yet been knocked out by tree limbs or blocked out by the approaching snowstorm.

“I’m sorry, babe,” David claimed, several hundred miles away and safe from the coming storm. “The roads are a nightmare. It took me forever just to find a hotel, and I still need to find someone crazy enough to take my goldfish out of the apartment for the week!”

“But, but-” Jessica stuttered, feeling like one of the anxiety-stricken freshmen in the high school English courses she taught. “You were supposed to be on the way back days ago, right?”

“We lost two men to bereavement leave,” he explained. “It was supposed to be a quick job and turned into a shitshow. I’m really sorry, babe. I know you had plans before the storm, and now I can’t even be there for that.”

“It’s…okay,” she lied, mainly because the old woman waiting behind her was giving one hell of an evil eye. “Listen, I need to go and…and it might be a while before we talk again, okay?”

“I am really sorry, Jess,” he continued to emphasize. It was not quite the phrase she was looking for, not after several months of dating and sorta living together, but perhaps she had overplayed how much the week off had meant to her and he wanted to hammer home how much it bothered him.

“I understand,” she said slowly, edging the old scratched phone closer to the cradle. “I’ll, I’ll call you as soon as I’m able, okay? See you, David.”

Click. Not even a reply back. Oh she would remember that shit, all right. If there wasn’t a mean looking old bitch right outside the phone booth, she may have stayed inside fuming for who knows how long. She maneuvered out of the booth and kaçak iddaa scurried back to her snow-covered car, her scarf and red hair lashing about wildly in the wind until she slammed the door shut with an exasperated gasp.

The snow had been predicted, but initial forecasts had put it as a brief frost following a few days of heavy rain. Instead, the giant puddles and wet roads had turned to ice phenomenally fast, and were buried under several days of heavy, windy snow. And on top of that, a brutally cold storm was expected to land by nightfall and not wind down for close to a week.

The roads had been salted in preparation for the storm, but apparently not enough. A thick layer of ice had formed, especially over the several bridges she would need to cross to reach her house out in the sticks. She pulled out of the gas station, head bent down and peeping through the few small clear spots she’d managed to chip away at the windshield, creeping along the road at a snail’s pace.

The wind had picked up considerably, and blew blinding snow across her already limited view. She risked one mostly useless glance at the high school she taught at, even though it was little more than a white blob in the distance.

She had been offered shelter in their dormitories, along with the rest of the normally home-going students that didn’t want to risk bus rides or parent’s lives on the frozen roads, but eagerly declined. For one thing, she was well stocked for the coming storm, it was just a matter of reaching home alive. For another, she didn’t enjoy the prospect of living with jealous high school girls for a week, or God forbid a bunch of horny boys locked in a box without internet porn. She got enough hateful and lustful glares while on the clock, thank you very much. And of course, she had planned on a little alone time with David. Now she had a pile of extravagant food and some other little surprises that would sit sadly in the cold little corner kaçak bahis of her kitchen.

She passed the school without incident and crept along, squinting to tell where the road was not only from the pouring snow but because she had miscalculated how much time she had for last-minute shopping. She had forgotten the return trip could take more than twice as long, and she was quickly reaching the horrifying point of driving in the dark in the middle of a snowstorm.

Out of nowhere a dim waving silhouette appeared at the side of the road, sunken into the snow.

“Goddamnit!” she cursed, not because she was remotely close to hitting them but just out of surprise. She braked, slowly, until the shape was pawing at her passenger door. While this was the worst possible day to be dealing with other people’s shit, she had a feeling driving on in this situation would be cruel to the point of illegality, and unlocked the door.

A vicious burst of chilled air slapped at the side of her face as the figure did its best to climb in without tracking in the knee-deep snow. She watched a backpack bulging with supplies roll into the backseat as the person sat and struggled to close the door against the wintry gale.

“Oh thank god,” the man gasped, and pulled back his thick hood.

Jessica vaguely recognized the man, well basically the boy, from high school, but hadn’t taught him personally. He was a senior set to graduate a few weeks from now, with a mostly neutral opinion in the teacher’s lounge, aside from the coaches who found him decent at track she was still technically the authority figure in the situation, and helpful or no, found this unexpectedly necessary support a little unnerving.

“I, um, wanna thank you,” he said at last, not making eye contact, ” for letting me stay here. There were two other cars but they didn’t see me or decided to speed on, and if you hadn’t shown up, I’d be sleeping in my car getting buried in snow right illegal bahis now.”

“Least I could do,” Jessica assured him, and spared a moment of ill will towards whatever heartless pricks had drove on by to leave her in this mess. After a large swig of soda, she closed her eyes and admitted, “You really helped me out there, too.”

David shyly smiled, not quite directly at her, and continued eating. They did an admirable job demolishing both the pound of spaghetti and sausage in one go. But once the plates were set to soak in the sink and the silence set in, David wasn’t the only one looking for a topic of conversation. Two people with only one relatable point at different ends of the spectrum struggled to find common ground, and naturally the conversation drifted towards the weather.

“So how long is it supposed to go on like this?” David asked, nodding his head towards the battering winds against the windows.”

“Last I heard, a couple of days,” Jessica recalled, “but they were wrong about this before. Can you reach the radio on top of the fridge for me? We can catch up on the news.”

David quickly fetched the antiquated box and gave it to her. It didn’t take very long to find a weather bulletin; the typical rock station had been either downsized or fully hijacked for constant updates on what sounded like a worsening situation.

“Governor Tamlin has activated the national guard in preparation for the coming storm,” a bland voice on the radio informed them. “We repeat, if you are within a mile or two of the shelters listed and have warm, reliable transportation, it is highly advised you cautiously take the main highways to their location. Fire and police staff are lighting the roads, and the snowplows will continue to run until midnight tonight. If you are unable to register in a shelter, the national guard and local services will be providing food, water and transportation for those willing in the coming days. Residents are advised to leave their faucets lightly running, and any outdoor extensions covered or insulated-“

“Man,” David whispered, eyes wide. “I’ve never been in a storm like this. Have you, Ms. McCormick?”

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