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Pale in the Hail

We had been invited to my dad’s uncle and aunt’s 50th wedding anniversary. I would have been thrilled to reconnect with my fairly large family in a big reunion, except I had never met anyone in this specific party besides my parents, siblings, and uncle. So, by the parents’ manipulative force, we hopped on the hardly functional white van, and headed on a four-hour drive to Bakersfield, California. Needless to say, my brother, sister, and I had frowns during our stay at the festivity. I noticed my parents appeared ready to depart the party, so I dragged my siblings with me to petition that we hit the road and head back. We said our farewells and I uncomfortably received hugs from people whom I considered strangers that somehow happened to share blood with me. Anxiously willing to get home, my siblings and I asked if we were “there yet” just about every five minutes to only hear a stern “no” that began to sound aggressive the more we asked.

It was cold, even inside the van. I came to peace with the fact that sleep was not coming to me while the wheels were rolling and the icy chill piercing into my bones. I chose to observe the surroundings. It was dark, we could only see little of the road ahead, and that was all. Suddenly, I saw drops of rain fall onto the front view of the vehicle. I stared at my window as the raindrops softly crashed into it. I shook my brother and my sister, managing to wake them and my mother in a mumbling complaint. As soon as they saw the water dripping they thanked me for making them witness it. The rain all too quickly turned into a violent hail storm. My mom gave my dad a worried glance as he returned the same reaction. My parents noticed that their children sensed the tension and fear and had become uneasy as well. My father reassured us that we would be able to make it past the downpour and safely fall into our own comfortable cushioned mattresses.

The shower only grew fiercer and the fog made it nearly impossible to see the road. The silence in the van was not a calm silence but one of extreme anxiety. In this unknown city, home promptly seemed infinitely far. We scanned the area for a sign of a hotel or anywhere we could stay the night. The van was swerving from side to side in the slippery path. My dad elected to drive off the freeway into what was an unidentified town to us. We all kept quiet until my sister signaled to a place she claimed appeared to be a hotel. Although skeptical, we still suggested going back. We snuggled close in the car, hoping to get some warmth in the freezing blizzard. My father stopped the car and stepped out to realize the place my sister had led us to was indeed a hotel. We stepped out and danced in triumphant jubilee and sprinted toward the entrance of the inn. We checked out a room and gleefully dashed in the direction of it. That night, we cuddled underneath the blankets. It didn’t matter that we were not home; we were alive and had been provided a place to sleep through.

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