Fort Nowhere

Prompt: Write a story that involves a truck stop, a garbage bag, and some sleeping pills.

A large black garbage bag sat in between the door and the bed. It’s not like Lydia hadn’t done this many times before, but this time seemed different. Each item was neatly folded and tucked away out of sight so as not to draw attention, she learned that 3 families ago.

“It’s time to go Linda.” The social worker looked bored and impatient as she tapped her foot.

“It’s Lydia.”

The car ride was longer than Lydia was used to. The window opened a crack, which was the same courtesy that would have been given to a poodle. “Can I know where we are going?” Lydia tried to phrase it with the least amount of contempt in her voice.

“We are trying something new. Since things did not work out with the previous 7 families we tried to place you with, we had to get creative.” Lydia hated how the social worker, Alison, spoke to her as if she was a project rather than a person, an incomplete scarf or a poorly built birdhouse. “We’re taking you to Fort Fraser, in Northern BC. It’s usually an 11 hour drive but we will stop in Kamloops for the night in about 3 hours and your new family is going to meet us there in the morning.”

“What?! You can’t be serious about this! I’ve lived in Vancouver for my entire life, and now you’re taking me to the middle of nowhere? Why didn’t you tell me? ” Lydia felt her face blushing with anger.

“Because I was told you would act like this. There is a really nice family who is welcoming you into their home, and they happen to agree with us that you need to get away from the big city.” Great, Lydia thought as she slumped back into the seat. Guess I’ll be running.

The next few hours went by uneventfully as Lydia watched the scenery she grew up in pass her by. They stopped for gas twice, but neither proved to be a good place to run: One was too isolated, the other too populated. Kamloops would prove to be the best spot to make a run for it.

Lydia has been mostly on her own since the age of 12, so she was used to life from couch to couch. She still had a few friends that didn’t hate her, the one advantage of being in the city, so she knew that she would be okay. She had enough money for the Greyhound ticket back to Vancouver, and it seemed like Alison was new to this, so the run would be easier than some.

The Best Western looked like every other chain motel, and since it is offseason, the parking lot was mostly empty. “Do I at least get my own room?” Lydia felt kind of relieved to break the silence that had engulfed the car for the past hour.

“No. We have 1 room with 2 queen beds.” Alison gave her a look that clearly meant she was on to Lydia’s plan. I guess it was a little predictable, but it’s still worth a shot. ANYTHING is better than getting stuck in the middle of bum-fuck-nowhere.

“Fine. What time am I being handed off?” She retrieved her garbage bag from the car and started heading into the hotel.

“In the morning.” Alison smirked as she walked past Lydia. They were clearly not going to get along.

It had been awhile since Lydia had stayed in a hotel, but this one seemed nice enough; not mints on your pillow nice, but it’s not like she planned on staying for the continental breakfast.

Lydia faked yawned. “Boy am I tired.” She said as she put her bag of possessions neatly under her bed, the one closest to the door of course.

“I am aware that you are known for running. This may be the first time we have dealt with each other but they do brief me before I take a job.” A job. Lydia rolled her eyes. That’s exactly what I am to her.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about Alison.” Alison walked over to the bed, picked up her garbage bag and put it into the hotel room safe. Well there goes the Greyhound idea. Lydia tried her best to look dejected. Of course this put a dent in her plan, but she sure as hell wasn’t leaving civilization.

Alison didn’t say much, but she clearly didn’t have to. She took the bed nearest the door and dead bolted the door. “Can I have something out of my bag? My pyjamas are in there.”

“Fine.” Alison said as she got off the bed. She had already changed into her nightgown, it was the classy type you would picture a grandmother wearing. Alison looked at her as if she was trying to see the dial of the safe. That wasn’t what Lydia was aiming for. She was aiming for the fact that not everything about her life was typed up in a little memo that Alison memorized before picking her up earlier that day.

“Thanks.” Lydia hopped into the bathroom, trying not to smile. Two families ago, Lydia had discovered that she had trouble sleeping (more so than most teenage girls anyway), and she was prescribed some mild sleeping pills. Alison’s water bottle sat perfectly on the edge of the sink. This is way too easy. Lydia crushed a few up, changed into her pyjamas and shook Alison’s water bottle.

“You left this in the bathroom.” She handed Alison the water bottle and crawled into bed. “Can we watch TV?” Alison nodded, tossed her the remote, and took a long swig from her water bottle before returning Lydia’s things to the safe.

It was already 10:00pm when they checked into the hotel, 11:00 by the time they actually got settled. Alison was asleep 45 minutes, and one water bottle, later. Lydia knew she would have to hold out for a few hours, there was no point trying to hitchhike back to Vancouver at midnight.
Without her pills, sleep evaded her. This was both a good thing and a bad one, as Lydia hadn’t been getting much sleep with the drama whirling around family number seven.

At 5:00am, and with Alison snoring, Lydia made her move. Out of the belongings she was having to leave behind locked in that safe, only one or two would actually be missed; the teddy bear she got from family two and her spare pair of Converse. All her clothes had been hand-me-downs, and she only had about $53 to her name. Alison barely even flinched as Lydia left the room, making sure to close the door as softly as possible behind her.

The sun was just coming up, and thankfully there was a truck stop right next to the hotel. Lydia hadn’t hitchhiked much in her life, but she had a few rules: No semi-trucks, no drunks and no hippies. Most of the time she ended up with guys a few years older than her, but she always had one hand on her cell phone, one on her bear mace (which was now sitting uselessly in the hotel safe). Her rules would have to be revamped.

Lydia people watched for a few minutes when a middle aged woman in her fifties walked out of the diner. She looks normal enough. Lydia headed over to the woman’s ride. It was an older pickup truck that looked like it had driven across Canada twice, but the woman had a smile on her face and looked about as safe as anything Lydia was going to find at 5:00am at a truck stop.

“Umm, sorry to bother you…” Lydia let her voice trail off as the woman turned to look at her.

“Well hey there. Let me guess, need a ride?” Lydia nodded rather sheepishly.

“Hop on in honey. Where are you headed?” The woman opened the truck door and pushed her frizzy hair out of her face.

“As close to Vancouver as you can possibly get me.” Lydia opened the other door and hopped in.

“My name’s Margaret, but everybody calls me Mags.”

Lydia smiled awkwardly, and shifted in the seat. “Lydia.”

“Well hey Lydia.” Mags’ smile was disturbingly genuine. She had orange hair that looked as if she had been fiddling with a light socket.

“You look like you haven’t slept in weeks, and we have a few hours before we get into the city, why don’t you relax.” This was the first time she had actually felt comfortable enough to relax in a stranger’s vehicle. This will be ironic if she’s a serial killer. Lydia was asleep in less than five minutes.

Lydia woke up in a bit of a haze. How long has it been? Lydia looked at her watch. “How is it noon?!”

“Well good morning sunshine!” Mags smile was just a big as when Lydia sat down in the truck.

Lydia looked outside. Where the hell am I. “Where the hell am I?” Lydia probably sound more frantic than she intended, but Mags’ expression had not changed.

“I guess I should formally introduce myself. My name is Margaret Maples, and I am your new guardian. We’ve still got 4 hours until we get into Fort Fraser. You hungry?”

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