The night before, she’d been out on her bike, riding along the trail she’d left behind the night before

on

Sadie knew that if she didn’t find a road by morning as much as she liked, she’d
have no clue how to make her way back to town, to find a bike shop, and to work.
She still had a few hours before she would turn in to sleep. She wanted to ride,
somewhere. She wished she didn’t have to, but she couldn’t risk not having a
bike to ride if she needed one.

She rode along back roads where the only people she saw were the people
she’d left behind her on the trail the night before. People with their backs
to her, their eyes closed, talking, or doing yoga. They probably had cell
phones, though she couldn’t imagine the purpose of it given how much noise they
were making as they worked out or rested.

She’d been on the road for twenty minutes when her heart began to pound. She
could hear the wind, and knew it was coming from behind her. The dark was
almost gone, and stars began to glitter in the sky. In her headlights, she could
see the edges of trees — as if people were watching her. The road she was on
wasn’t busy, and she’d been riding for a while when she decided on a U-turn.
It took ten minutes for her to get back on the main highway.

She passed a sign that said “Bike Shop,” and decided to stop at the first one
that was open. She pedaled through the parking lot, and as she stepped out of
her bike, a car was pulling out beside her. She looked at the car. It was a
white sedan, and her mind was still trying to understand why it had stopped
and was staring at her.

“Well, hello again,” the driver said, and she felt a wave of shock at how
loud he sounded. “Are you going to be here long?”

Sadie shook her head, still stunned at the fact that the driver had stopped
to talk to her — as if they’d known each other for years.

“I’m sorry,” she said, “but I came from out of town.” Her voice sounded
more normal to her own ears.

“Oh, that’s OK.” The car looked right into her eyes, and a small smile
hinted at the driver’s mouth.

“Do you own this road?” she asked.

“I do.” The driver smiled back. “It’s a piece of property.”

Sadie nodded. She had to admit, he seemed nice. Maybe he’d even be willing to
help her. She’d asked him if he could take her to town, to her parents’ house,
so she could return her bike. She wouldn’t feel she was giving up anything by
asking.

“Yeah,” he said, “I can help you get back to town.”

“Thanks,” she said, standing there waiting.

His car was a Buick, and a woman stepped out of the passenger’s side. At a
distance, she looked like her, but she was wearing a leather jacket and jeans.

“I’ll take you home,” the driver said.

“Thanks,” Sadie said.

“I’m sorry to have to stop you. I know you didn’t mean to be rude.”

“You weren’t rude at all.”

“Really. I’m just… I’m stuck. On the side of the highway, with nothing to do
but wait for a few minutes.”

“Sorry for intruding. I wouldn’t make you do this if you didn’t
care.” She was sorry for intruding, but she’d had a lot of time to think. She
looked at the driver’s license in her hand and decided she’d give him one more
chance. “What’s your name?” she asked.

“My name’s John, and it’s OK, I hope you’re not offended.”

“Not at all. I’m just hoping you’re willing to help me.”

“We can help you. We can even take you to town. What’s your name?” He looked
over at her, and when she said it, he smiled like she’d done something good.

“My name is Sadie,” she said, and he smiled again.

“All right then, Sadie, let’s get going. I’m supposed to get going before
dark, but it’s pretty late.”

“Sure,” Sadie said. She sat in a folding chair in the backseat, and John got
behind the wheel. They drove for a minute, and she saw the first trees, the
first bushes, the first houses. A few minutes later, they were pulling into the
town square.

Sadie wasn’t really expecting what happened next. John turned around and looked
at her.

“You want to take me home?” she asked.

“That would be nice,” he said.

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