The Pacemaker (Jennifer Semple Siegel)

Hurtling on I-70, through the flattest part of Indiana.
Mile marker 191.
Plans to break at exit 208 for lunch.
Husband, at the wheel for the past two hours, stares straight ahead at the broken white line.
Highway nearly empty, one small orange semi square far ahead.
Gerry and the Pacemakers’ “Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey” croons through the speakers.
*Life goes on day after day…*
“Boring drive,” I say, noting the endless cornfields on either side, brilliant blue skies.
No answer.
He stares ahead in total concentration.
Mile marker 195.
*Each with their own secret care…*
“Well, then…” I brush off the perceived slight.
His body looks stiff and unyielding.
“At least it’s not raining.”
No response.
Dead stare.
Is he playing a cruel joke on me?
Slight panic. “Honey?”
Still nothing.
Mile marker 197.
His breath seems steady and regular, no sign of pain, color looks good.
Always a concern with a cardiac patient.
*Hearts torn in every way…*
Yet the car remains steady, cruise control on, slight curves navigated perfectly.
The blankness scares me.
My God, is something wrong with him?
*And always take me there…*
Yes, we’re almost there.
*So I’ll continue to say…*
Exit 208 ahead.
“Stop! Stop! That’s our exit!”
Without a word, Husband zips the car toward the ramp and slows down.
“Wha –?” He shakes his head like a dog.
“We’re here.”
“I lost 17 miles. What happened to miles 192 through 207?”
*We’ll never turn you away…*
“Hello! The miles didn’t disappear. You did!”
Husband slows down and switches on the right turn signal – when exiting to an unfamiliar place, he always turns right – one of his quirks.
“Oh. I remember now,” he says.
Green road sign at the T:

Liverpool      1 mile

There’s a Liverpool in Pennsylvania, but no signage has indicated an Indiana Liverpool, at least from I-70 and, specifically, exit 208.
“That’s right.” A strange red glow emanates from Husband’s eyes.
Panic rises in my heart. “I think we took a wrong turn.”
“It’s gonna be all right, all right.”
“What? Are you kidding? We’re totally lost.”
“Here we’ll always stay,” he says, his voice not quite – him.
I suddenly get a whiff of salt air, mixed with that of marine life – not something I’d associate with Indiana.
The squawk of seagulls.
Gulls invading mid-America?
Back home, they often travel inland and hang around malls, about 50 miles from the Chesapeake Bay.
Gulls would have to travel hundreds of miles to be here.
And why?
Husband sings along: *‘Cause this land's the place I love…*
“What are you talking about? Indiana?”
“No. Liverpool.” He takes a deep breath. “They'll never turn us away.”
“Commonly known as Liverpudlians.”
Another sign:

Ferry      1/2 mile

He sighs impatiently: “We’re taking the ferry ‘cross the Mersey. The River Mersey.”
*We don't care what your name is…*
“A place we can love.”
A boat ramp materializes before us.
“Here we’ll stay.”
Forever here.
Ahead, a foghorn wails.
(500 words)



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1201-1300 Words1 1301-1400 Words1 14 words1 1401-1500 Words1 15 words1 1500 Words+2 1580 words1 1969 race riots1 19th Century Literature1 20 words1 201-300 Words4 2016 Elections1 21 words1 216 words1 23 words1 263 words1 278 words1 296 words1 3 words1 301-400 Words1 35 words1 401-500 Words6 428 words1 451 456 words1 489 words1 49 words1 49'er1 50 Years Ago: Apollo 11 – First Men on the Moon. Where were You?1 500 words3 501-600 Words1 541 Words1 601-700 Words1 613 words1 701-800 Words4 703 Words2 772 words1 774 words1 801-900 Words2 857 words1 86 45 11 31 896 words1 9-111 901-1000 Words1 A Grave Digger in Search of a Body1 A Reporter Three Orioles and an Astronaut’s Family: The Grand Experiment1 A Story That Could be True1 Accidental writers1 Albert Einstein1 Allegory1 Alternate Universe1 Alternative Definitions1 Anonymous1 AOC1 Apollo 112 Apollo 81 Arizona1 Astronauts1 Baseball2 Birdsong1 Bramble Degan katherinevbt1 Broken Glass1 Cal Ripken Jr.1 Cal Ripken's last game1 Child1 Children1 Classic Flash Fiction1 Copyright Notice1 Creation1 Creativity1 Death and Dying2 Definitions1 Divorce1 Domain Names1 Donald J. Trump3 Donald Trump Mocking a Disabled Reporter1 Dreams1 Dystopia3 Dystopian fiction3 Dystopian non-fiction2 Earth1 Earthrise1 EEVBlog1 Essay2 Essay Poem1 family2 Fantasy2 Fat as a Political Statement1 Fat-Person Manifesto1 Feminist Literature1 Ferry 'Cross the Mersey1 Fiction23 Fiction submissions1 Flash Fiction22 Flash Fiction Project1 Flash Non-fiction7 Flogging the Dolphin1 Fold Me Up1 Found stories1 FOXinated1 Friedrich Nietzsche1 Gate Crashers1 gender2 gender identity1 Gerry and the Pacemakers1 Guidelines for Submitting to Project1 Hard-boiled Detective1 Horror1 Humor4 I Had a Dream1 I Hope This Is Just Fiction1 identity1 Idiocracy1 Jackie1 Jeffrey A. Brown1 Jennifer Semple Siegel24 Just Brown People1 Kate Chopin1 Letter1 Life Changes1 Manifesto1 Margaret Atwood1 Mass Shootings1 Massacres1 Mystic Mouse and Calamity Cat1 NASA2 Nico Tini: Private Eye1 Nicotini1 Nightmares1 Non-fiction7 Non-fiction submissions1 nonsensical1 Ocean Waves1 October 6 20011 On Resubmitting Her Creation1 Orioles1 Philosophy1 poem1 Politics2 Poyke1 Privacy and Copyright Notices1 Privacy Notice1 Prose poem1 Quid Pro Quo1 Revenge1 Robert S. Mueller III1 Scams1 September 11 2001: Eighteen Years Ago the World Changed Forever1 Short short story5 Short story4 Social Media Martyrs1 Spam1 Sports1 Stories That Could be Partially True1 Stories That Could Be True8 Stories We Wish Were True3 Stories We Wish Weren't True1 Story-poem3 Strangers1 Submissions1 Sudden Lie1 Sudden Lies1 Suddenlies1 Suddenly1 Suddenlys4 Suddenlys Project3 Sudenlie1 The Crux of the Matter1 The Mueller Report1 The Nocturnal Visitor1 The Pacemaker1 The Story of an Hour1 Thy Daily Dread1 Time1 Trump1 Twilight of the Clods1 Vote1 Vote it Out1 Voting1 Weight issues1 Wife1 Wilson P. Dizard1 Wordplay1 York Pennsylvania1 YT ONG1 Yuma1
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