Endless land. Hills rolled past for hours, and nothing seemed to change. Just grass. And hills. The occasional cow or wind orchard. Nothing much. The highway just went on forever, as if there was no end. The only interesting thing for miles was the random billboard that read 'Big Tasty Butts' with a picture of two cartoon pigs facing their rear ends toward every car that passed it, which probably didn't happen very often, considering there was no sign of civilization or human life anywhere. We were literally in the middle of nowhere. The land of Nowhere; a wasteland full of grass, hills, cows, wind turbines, and big tasty butts. It was a place that nobody wanted to be, more or less stranded in for several hours on end in an old and run down Volkswagen with your mom. If you wanted to drive yourself insane, that's the place that you'd go to do it. You would go nowhere.
"Come on, Nonny. Don't look so glum."
I glanced at her, not saying a word; not letting her know what I was thinking. I just stared at her, acting as if staring at her long enough might cause rays to come out of my eyes and bore into her skin. But it was obvious that that would never happen, which kind of disappointed me.
"What are you giving me that look for?" She asked, "You know that this move is for the best. To let you start over. To let us start over."
I stared at her for another moment, pondering hard about whether or not to speak; to waste my already barely used voice on her. I just finally rolled my eyes and turned to look out the window at the rolling hills once again, "Gosh, you sound like Norma Bates."
I could sense her rolling her eyes at me, knowing her well enough to know that that's how she'd react to a comment like that, "I'm being serious, Nonny. We really need this. Staying in LA would only make your… problem, worse. It would only make you remember what happened. Sometimes a new setting can change your mind set. It can really help."
"I don't have a problem, Mom." I remarked, trying to put attitude in my voice, which didn't seem to be working, considering my naturally monotonous voice, but it was worth a try anyway, "I just need a little time to get everything under control. That's all."
"It seemed like you needed a lot more than just a 'little time' last week when you-"
"Mom! I'm fine! I don't have a problem! Just concentrate on the road, would you?!" I snapped, not wanting her to even dare to finish that sentence. I usually didn't snap like that, but it was a really touchy subject for me, and she knew it. She knew it all too well, having learned it the hard way.
We were both silent for a moment, but she finally spoke up, "I'm sorry."
"Being sorry doesn't change what happened." I said, almost whispering. I wasn't even sure if she heard me, but if she did, she definitely got the message. She didn't say another word for a while.
After a couple silent hours of grass, hills, and all that, I was about to give in to my tiredness and fall asleep, when the sound of my mom's scream and sudden slam of the brakes threw me forward in my seat, slamming my head into the dash board. I rubbed my forehead in pain as it began to throb. So much for seat belts.
"I'm sorry, baby." She apologized, gently and caringly running her fingers through my hair. She then quickly faced forward and pressed her palm harshly into the center of the steering wheel, causing the car horn to blare loudly, "Hey, idiot! Get out of the road!"
In front of our car stood a man, almost like a deer in headlights. Well, he was in our headlights, so that analogy doesn't exactly work here. He was kinda tall. He had muscular arms, and a cowboy hat sat on top of his head, along with a goatee of sorts on his chin and his deep blue eyes stood out in the dim headlights. If I was a woman, I might've actually been attracted to him. But I was a dude… and straight. I mean, I have nothing against gays, but I'm just saying that I'm not one of them.
The man tried saying something, but his words were not audible from where we sat.
"Huh?!" Mom yelled, obviously not hearing him either.
The man walked around to the driver's side of the car so that we could hear him better, and Mom didn't hesitate to roll down her window.
"What in this world are you doing standing in the middle of the road?!" She asked, her voice being a couple of decibels too loud.
"I'm not standin' in the road, ma'am." He said with a kind smile on his face. He had a thick country accent and his voice was very deep, kinda like one of those no name country singers that you hear on the radio. Very awkward, yet mesmerizing at the same time.
"What do you mean?! I just almost ran you over! Are you drunk or something?! My son could have a concussion because of you!" She raged, flailing her arms angrily with several unnecessary hand gestures. All the man did was try not to laugh. I wanted to tell her that I most definitely didn't have a concussion, because I didn't hit my head nearly hard enough for that, but I decided not to interfere with her rampage. It was something that I knew better than to do. It was kind of common sense.
"Take a look for yourself." The man said, gesturing to the front of our car. Mom gave him the stink eye, then let her eyes venture to the front of the car where the man gestured, only to realize that there was no road. Her eyes then drifted a little to our left and past the man, only to see that the road was several inches to the left of our car. An embarrassed smile came onto her face, and I could tell that she was even blushing a little.
"I'm sorry, sir." She apologized, "It's kinda late, and we're both really tired. I guess I drifted off a little. My bad."
"Your bad?" I asked, "You could've gotten us killed."
"Yeah, but I didn't, now did I?" She remarked, with a pretty bad comeback if you ask me. She was never really good with that kind of stuff.
"Maybe you two should stop somewhere for the night." The man suggested, "Where you headed?"
"Marshallville, Kentucky?" Mom answered, as if asking for directions.
He chuckled heartily, and smiled warmly at her, "Well, you can't try to get somewhere if you're already there."
"You mean we're in Marshallville right now?" Mom asked, seeming relieved that she would finally be able to rest and stop driving. I mean, I don't know why she didn't just let me drive for a little while. I was 17. I had a license. It only made sense.
"Just about." The man answered, "City limits are just up the road a ways. What you coming to a little town like Marshallville for?"
"We're coming to live with my sister until we find a place of our own." Mom answered, "We could use a nice little town like Marshallville. From what my sister says, it's a nice place. Peaceful."
"Well, she ain't wrong." The man laughed, "Marshallville is definitely something."
Mom laughed half-heartedly, and scratched the back of her neck nervously, "She's not actually home tonight, but she will be in the morning, and we were just gonna find a motel or something to stay in for the night."
The man cracked up laughing as if that was the funniest thing that he'd ever heard in his life. I'd never heard anyone laugh like that before. It was really strange sounding, considering how deep his voice was, and it almost sounded like we was wheezing a little, almost as if he was a former smoker, and quit long ago, but the after effect still hung around him, forever cursing him for doing such a stupid thing. It was something that I'd heard far too many times.
"There ain't no motel within miles of here! You would need to drive for another three hours or so before you hit a motel!" He laughed, still acting as if it was the most ridiculous thing he'd ever heard.
"Oh…" Mom whispered, seeming a little disappointed that she wouldn't be able to sleep in a bed that night, "I guess we'll have to just sleep in the car, or something, then."
I wanted to object, not wanting to sleep in that musty thing for even two seconds, but there didn't seem to be any other option. I just figured it was better than nothing. Nothing would've been worse.
"Now, missy." The man interrupted, calming down from his laughing fit, "Do you really want you and your son to sleep out here all night in this heat? That would be highly uncomfortable."
"What other choice do we have?" Mom asked as if talking to a vet about putting down an animal.
"How about the two of you come stay at my place for the night? Until your sister gets home. How's that sound?" He suggested, genuine caring in his voice.
"No, I wouldn't ask that of you." Mom refused, shaking her head. I could tell that she was holding back the real reason why she didn't want to stay with him. I'd be nervous to come home with a creepy lumberjack man, too. Who knows who he was or what he was capable of doing. I didn't blame her.
"It wouldn't be a problem, miss." He tried to persuade her. He then nodded toward me, "I've got a boy around his age. He'd enjoy having a friend around for the night. Granted, he's got plenty of 'em at school and such, but still. He wouldn't mind getting a new one."
Mom looked at me as if asking for my opinion. I just shrugged in response. I figured that our best bet was to figure out a little about him, and if his story didn't seem fishy, we could go home with him, but keep our guard up in case he tried anything. She seemed to read my mind.
"If you don't mind me asking, what might your name be?" Mom asked, seeming to be trying to sound as kind as she could.
"Cliff." The man answered, "Cliff Gordon. Live just up the road a few miles. Came down here to gather some wood for the bonfire in a couple 'a nights. Was just about to head on back before you folks came along and nearly squashed me like a potato." He seemed to be trying to hold back a laugh as he said that last part. I didn't see what was so funny about becoming a 'squashed potato' on the side of the road.
"Well, Mr. Gordon," Mom ventured, trying to find out more information about the dude, "Do you have a wife? Kids?"
"No ma'am." Cliff answered, almost as if he held pride in not having a significant other, "Just me and my boy. Always has been."
"You ever been married, Mr. Gordon?" Mom asked, leaning her arm on the open window and propping her chin on her fist. She seemed awfully interesting about whether or not this dude had a wife or not, but I was pretty sure that it wasn't because she was trying to hook up with him. I had a pretty good idea of what she was actually trying to do.
"Used to be. But that had to be 15 years ago." Cliff answered, letting his eyes wander away from us, as if memories that he didn't want to remember were all coming back in a flurry of sadness, forcing him to remember, "Miss her with all my heart. I'd give anything to have been in her place."
"Would you mind me asking what happened to her?" Mom asked, sounding genuinely interested and sympathetic for him, when I knew that she really wasn't. She was just trying to squeeze information out of him. It might've been obvious to me, but not to Cliff.
"She lost her battle to Cancer." He said, not making eye contact, "My boy says he barely remembers her, 'cuz he was just two years old when it happened. Breaks my heart thinkin' about it." He seemed as if he'd go into some deep depression if he had to talk about her any longer, so I nudged Mom with my elbow, trying to tell her to quit it with the questions, and she just looked at me as if she wasn't understanding what I was trying to tell her.
"Stop it with the questions." I whispered harshly, trying not to let Cliff hear me, but he appeared to be deep in a daydream, so he probably wouldn't hear anything anyway.
"I'm just trying to see if he's trustworthy. I don't want to follow some creeper home." She whispered back, nodding back at Cliff as she said 'creeper'.
I didn't respond. I just sighed agitatedly. I was tired, and I just wanted to get some sleep, and she was making it much more difficult than it should've been. I glared at her, and she seemed to get the message.
She rolled her eyes and turned to Cliff, "Um, sir?"
He blinked and stared at her, seeming dazed from coming out of his little trance, "Yes?"
Mom sighed and finally gave in to his offer, "As long as it's okay with you, we'll be more than happy if you'd allow us to stay at your home for the night."
He smiled then nodded, "Let me get the last of the wood into the truck, then I'll lead ya there."
Mom smiled half-heartedly and watched as Cliff walked toward the woods where a white pickup truck was visible through the darkness.
"Okay, here's the plan." She said as soon as he was out of ear shot, "I want you to be ready to run in case he tries anything. Don't try to wait for me, just get yourself out of there. Keep your phone on you and call the police when you get a safe distance away."
"Mom," I said, loosening my seat belt so I could face her, "Even if he does try anything –which he won't- I'm not going to leave you behind."
"I know I know." She said, "I just want to be prepared in case something does happen. You never know."
I tried so hard not to roll my eyes at her. I understood where she was coming from, but I just didn't think that this guy was a threat. It was logical to be cautious with mysterious cowboy lumberjack dudes that you met in the woods; she was doing the responsible thing. I just thought that she was being a little too cautious.
After a moment, we could see the truck pull out onto the road. Cliff honked his horn at us as if he thought that we hadn't seen him.
"Idiot." Mom mumbled under her breathe as she started up the car and pulled into the road, steading herself to follow Cliff down what soon became a gravel road.
"These woods are really creepy looking." Mom shivered as we slowly drove down the small road, "I feel like Slenderman is going to come out and kill us."
"I'm sure it's not as bad during the day." I tried reassuring her. That's how most forests were: fine during the day, creepy at night.
"I know." She agreed, "But we can't see very far through this darkness. There's no telling what's out there."
"I'm sure Slenderman is totally gonna come out of those woods and kill us." I mocked her, shaking my head.
"Nonny!" She exclaimed, slapping my arm playfully, "That's not funny!"
In front of us, Cliff turned left onto some sort of path into the woods.
"This doesn't seem like a murder movie at all." Mom said sarcastically, also turning onto the path.
I didn't reply, but instead shook my head. She always made sarcastic comments like that. Most of the time it was more like she was talking to herself, because I would never reply. I didn't reply to things that most people said to me. At least, not verbally.
Before long, I realized that the path we were driving on, wasn't a path; it was a drive way. It led around a bend until a large house came into sight. The building was illuminated by the internal lights of the home, making it look much more beautiful than it probably did in the daylight. The house looked very open, with several glass walls and large windows. The entire thing was made of wood like some sort of log cabin, just bigger and fancier. It looked oddly large for housing just two people. Then again, the amount of people living there had probably decreased over the years. It probably used to house many more people.
Cliff parked in front of the house, and mom pulled up next to him. She turned off the engine as we watched Cliff hop out of his truck.
"Remember the plan." Mom whispered, then climbing out of the car before I got a chance to argue. I groaned and got out, closing the door behind me.
"Welcome!" Cliff greeted us, acting like we were guests to a party that he was throwing, "I hope you find yourselves comfortable. Would you like any help with your things?"
"I think we'll just leave our 'things' in the car." Mom answered, "We'll be leaving in the morning, so there's no point in unpacking everything. Right, Nonny?"
I turned to her, seeing that she was just making stuff up; she still didn't trust him. She was still afraid that we'd have to leave in a hurry and didn't want to lose our stuff in the process. Plus, she was probably afraid that if we did stay, that he'd try going through our things or something.
I nodded, just deciding to play along.
"Alright, then." Cliff shrugged, "If that's what you want. Just remember; as long as you're here, my home is your home."
He smiled warmly and climbed the front porch steps. Mom and I followed behind him.
He opened the front door which was apparently unlocked, then gestured for us to come in, "Welcome to my home."
Author's Note: WABAM! What do you think so far? Good new story? Bad new story? Tell me what you think! This story is going to be a little different than my others, but I hope you guys like it just as much! I know that not much happened in this chapter, despite the fact that it's pretty long. It was very talky. For this story, I've decided to tweak with Nonny's personality a bit. He's still going to be the quiet and monotonous Nonny that you all know and love, but as you may have noticed in this chapter, I've decided to add a bit of ironic sass in his personality. I put a bit of thought into it, and I figured that he's older now, and that sometimes people change as they get older. So obviously he's still very quiet and stuff, but when he does talk, he might be a little sassy from time to time. I just thought that I'd try that out.
Where are the other characters, you ask? Do not worry! They shall be coming soon! But for right now, what do you think of this Cliff dude? Do you trust him? Do you think he's telling the truth, or are Nonny's mom's predictions about him correct? I GUESS YOU'LL JUST HAVE TO WAIT AND SEE.
Quick shoutouts to Princess Caveia1234, AmberStone12, and Passwordis0.'14 for being my BBFs and for supporting the idea for this story! As you all may know, counting this story, I currently have 3 BG stories in the works (not counting ANL. It's finished ya know). I'm considering an idea about making a FOURTH story. I know that may be a bit much, but I think I could handle it. I keep on getting super good ideas and I don't feeling like waiting to start on them XD. So tell me what you think! But that's all I have for this chapter! Adios for now, people! Peace!