by Nancy Jorgensen
She dragged their suitcase up the grimy steps, handing her ticket to the man hunched behind the wheel. He acknowledged her with a mute stare and stuffed the ticket in a box. She wondered about stops on this route but didn’t ask—she was comfortable with the silence of information withheld.
Although she preferred solo travel, her recent companion joined her when she found an empty row and slid to the window seat; he remained close.
Diesel fumes, almost visible, roiled her stomach, flushed her throat and she looked for the bathroom, just in case, reassured by the unoccupied sign.
For six hours, mum, she read and knit and worried and chafed as they rumbled past 5-story apartments, then Cape Cods with blue pools and diving boards, then cornfields of silky tops, waiting, open, ready for tassels to fertilize their ears.
She counted the weeks—20. She counted her money—enough for 20 more. She weighed her decision—200 miles, a safe distance for secrecy, solitude, a showdown with her conscience. She hefted it oppositely—200 miles, a daunting distance from house, help, hospital.
The driver stopped and opened his door, sucking exhaust down the aisle. She gagged, claustrophobic in the enclosed space, and smoothed a hand across her front, stroking her companion.
Nancy Jorgensen earned a Bachelor of Music from Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a Master of Music from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. A high school choir director for many years, she is the co-author of two music education books, Things They Never Taught You in Choral Methodsand From the Trenches: Real Insights from Real Choral Educators. In May 2018, she won first place in Prime Number Magazine's 53-word story contest and in August 2017, she won first place in Smith Magazine's #SixWordPinnacleMoment contest."
Nancy and her husband, Joel, have two daughters. Older daughter Elizabeth Jorgensen teaches creative writing, composition, and journalism at Arrowhead High School in Hartland, Wisconsin. Younger daughter Gwen Jorgensen is the 2016 Olympic Champion in women's triathlon, 2012 Olympian, All-American runner and CPA. Nancy is currently marketing a memoir, Go, Gwen, Go: A Family’s Battle Cry for Gold, about raising an Olympian.
Pieces Inspired by this Image
'Glinda brings a Surprise'
'the spider's sacks'