Once off the freeway, the old girl found her pace and hugged the bends like she’d been doing for the past fifty years. This is what she was made for!
“We’ve been on these roads before,” said the wife, and navigator.
“It’s been a long time though, can’t remember when,” he said, barely taking his eyes off the winding road ahead of him.
“It’s not that long ago, I remember seeing that house. We commented about it at the time. It seems out of place out here; all the other houses are old, but this is new and modern and large, surrounded by dry, barren land. We made the same comment last time.”
“You’d be surprised about how long ago it was – two years at least,” the husband and driver said as he coaxed the long bonnet around the curves. ‘Watch for twisty roads’ warned the rally notes.
“No, it was definitely more recent than that.”
The road branched left and the navigator gave the next set of rally instructions. “At the T-junction, turn left onto Kongaderra Rd. Watch for bumps on the road. “
The driver barely slowed the old girl, who took the corner with only a slight squeal of the tyres, and revved back up to top gear.
The car glided gracefully over the bumps and the navigator watched as the scenery slipped by, with landmarks presenting themselves in her consciousness. “We have been on this road recently. We planned a rally and we did the checking of the route. I knew it wasn’t long since we’ve been on these roads.”
“Yeah, maybe we did, but that was at least a year ago, maybe the same time of year as now.”
“We stopped at the haunted pub, but it was too close for a coffee stop.”
“So where did we stop for a coffee stop then if it wasn’t the pub?”
“Oh, I know, was it the tram museum?”
“You could be right, maybe that was it.”
“I knew it was more recent than two years ago.”
The rally wound its way through small country towns, with the navigator and driver exchanging not much more than basic rally instructions. They were complete within their own thoughts, whilst enjoying each other’s presence. The rumble of the engine and the air whistling through the side window precluded much conversation anyway.
“Beware, you will bottom out after the bridge – reduce speed!”
The old girl forged ahead over the bridge and didn’t even look like bottoming out. “Well, that was a non-event, not a chance of hitting anything there… she goes well, the old girl,” said the driver with a wry smile and an understated hint of pride.
“It’s definitely more recently than a year ago that we came along this road,” she said as more landmarks passed quickly by and pricked her memory.
“I don’t think so, I can’t think when it would have been,” he said. As he said it there was something that sat uneasily in the back of his mind.
The landscape was surprisingly dry for this time of year, but the driver and navigator didn’t comment. They were used to driving in different parts of the Victorian countryside and had come to expect all manner of scenery. One day perhaps they would own a slice of the country, and remained quietly introspective, though they knew that their thoughts of what the future might bring were shared.
“I know when it was!!’ exclaimed the wife, startling them both from their reverie.
“I don’t think we’ve been here recently,” the husband persisted.
“Yes we have, I know we have.”
“So, when was it?” he queried, a shadow passing over his brow.
“We went to Robin’s place. Was it the Christmas Rally?”
“No, we didn’t go to Robin’s at Christmas”.
“Well, when was it, we’ve been here recently!’
“I don’t know when it was,” his frustration beginning to show.
“It wasn’t long ago, come on, you must know when it was. We have been here haven’t we?”
Before he could reply, the answer struck her like a rod of lightening and sent shock waves through her heart. Oh my god, shut up now or you’ll make it worse. She fixed her gaze firmly out the window for a full minute, then looked at the rally notes and said “we’ve only got thirteen more kilometres to go. I’m looking forward to lunch, feeling a bit hungry now, what about you?”
The driver took his eyes off the road for a few seconds and stared at his wife, in a way he’d never had to look at her before.
“I’m not sure, maybe it wasn’t long since we’ve been here. Was it Robin’s 50th birthday party?” he asked carefully, hiding the horror of his realisation.
“Yes, yes, that was it!!” she exclaimed a little too eagerly. “So, are you going to have the lamb or the beef when we get to the restaurant?” she babbled on. “I hear they do a really nice lamb casserole with Paris mash, but then again beef with red wine might be a nice change on a day like today, what do you think?”
The road wound through the busy main street of Daylesford, packed with weekenders, and the old girl purred her way into Hepburn Springs, through the gully and roared over the bridge. “I’m not hungry any more!,” the husband and driver said vehemently. He stared at his wife in disbelief for just a little too long and missed the sign that read ‘sharp bend ahead’.
Their repartee sounds so familiar, except we’re driving in Finland and there haven’t been any shock revelations. Fantastic, kept me wondering almost to the end!
I’m glad your trip had a better ending!