Authors: Marysue Hobika
MARYSUE G HOBIKA
NOWHERE COPYRIGHT 2013 by MARYSUE G HOBIKA
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages for review purposes. If you are reading this book and you did not purchase it or win it in a contest, this book has been pirated. Please delete and support the author by purchasing the ebook from one its distributors.
This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to any person, living or dead, events or circumstances, is coincidental. The characters and story lines are created by the author’s imagination or used fictitiously.
The cover art was created by Lee Rowland. For more information please visit her website at
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I dedicate this book in loving memory of my mother, Shirley Goodburlet.
“I can’t wait to get out of this stupid car!” I complained for the millionth time. “This ride feels like it’s never going to end.”
My younger sister, Emma, grumbled her discontent from the backseat—I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t having a good time.
“We just crossed the state line into New York.” My mother gave us a reassuring smile. “It won’t be long now, only about two more hours until we reach your grandfather’s house. Let’s try to enjoy what’s left of our trip.” Mom slipped in a CD from her favorite musical and began to sing along.
I took her advice and tried to relax. Leaning my head back, I closed my eyes. The top was down on her convertible. The cool air soothed my frayed nerves. After a few moments, I removed the elastic tie from my hair and allowed it to blow freely around my face. Even though I hated every minute of this cross country trek, my mom’s bright blue Audi S4 was a fabulous ride. The rush of the wind and hum of the music lulled me to sleep.
My eyes fluttered open when the car slowed. We were no longer speeding down the highway.
Welcome to Railroad Mills
the sign read
My stomach grew queasy. I feared I might throw up the greasy burger and fries I ate for lunch.
Railroad Mills—or as I like to call it, Nowhere—was established before electricity, and the small town hadn’t changed much since its inception. In the center of town, in lieu of a traffic light, was a tall statue of a man. Unless you were from here, you had no idea who had the right of way.
A row of rundown antique shops, a video store, an ice cream stand, a gas station, and a five and dime——
whatever that was
—made up Main Street.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, my grandfather, who we called Pop-Pop, didn’t live in town. His place was another two miles out, where there was nothing but cornfields.
What am I going to do here
? I was a city girl, not a country bumpkin. I liked the sound of traffic and sirens. Here, nothing but silence filled the air. This town was so small that if you blinked while driving through, you might miss it altogether. Dread washed through me.
Emma, who never agreed with me on anything, said exactly what I was thinking. “Mom, are you sure about this? Do you think moving here’s really a good idea? Couldn’t we just visit for a week or two, and then go back to California?”
“No, we can’t go back,” replied my mom.
Emma and I exchanged looks of dismay, but before we could argue further our mom continued.
“You’ll see, this is the right place for us.” She smiled gently, even as her hands gripped the steering wheel. “I know it doesn’t look like much, but you’ll like it here. Once you’ve given it a chance.”
She was right – this place didn’t look like much. However, she was wrong about me ever liking it here. I knew Nowhere would never feel like home.
My mom scanned our new surroundings and took a deep breath. “And don’t forget about Pop-Pop. He needs us.” I noticed a hint of sadness in my mother’s eyes. “He’s been lonely and depressed ever since Meema died.”
“That was three years ago, and he’s been doing fine without us,” I reminded her.
“Well, things are different now.”
“That’s an understatement,” I grumbled. “First, Dad dies, and now you rip us out of our school and away from our friends to bring us here…to the middle of nowhere.” As unfairness consumed me, I couldn’t help but add, “This fucking sucks!”
She stomped on the brake pedal and turned to me with an angry look. “Mikayla Mooney, we don’t talk like that in this family. You better watch your mouth, or I’ll pull over and wash it out with antibacterial gel.”
Having had that experience once, I wasn’t eager to do it again. But I don’t give up easily, and I know how to push my mom’s buttons. “Fuck was Dad’s favorite word,” I retorted smartly.
“Just because your dad, who was a grown man, used that kind of language doesn’t mean it’s okay for you to, young lady.”
“I’m going to be eighteen next month. Then I’ll be able to make my own decisions. Starting with jumping on the first flight back to civilization.”
Mom ignored me.
We passed a house wrapped in insulation; it had been abandoned years ago, before the siding was ever added. It reminded me of the state of my affairs. I had to try one last time to make Mom see things from my point of view.
“I don’t understand why I couldn’t stay in California and live with Paige and her family and finish high school there. I’m going to miss the best year of my life, withering in this town. I was supposed to be the art editor for the yearbook.
a huge deal. I waited three years for that position! It meant a lot to me. Not that you care.”
“Mike, we’ve been through this a thousand times. And each time, I get a new gray hair,” Mom sighed heavily. She quickly checked her reflection in the rearview mirror. “Look at me.” She pulled at a few loose tendrils. “I have gray hairs everywhere now. I’m not going to get into this argument with you again. We’re moving in with your grandfather, and that’s that.”
“I hate you,” I screamed.
“I’m sure you do,” she replied, looking sad.
Even though I pushed her into feeling as miserable as I did, it didn’t make me feel any better.
I watched the clock on the dashboard painfully mark the time. As each minute passed, impending doom closed in on me. Suddenly, Pop-Pop’s rundown farmhouse came into view, with its crooked old vegetable stand; the hand-painted sign advertised homegrown tomatoes, corn on the cob, and mums. My stomach did another somersault. I silently prayed for her to drive on by, but she turned at the corner and pulled into the gravel driveway, the sporty convertible kicking up dust.
This town was as different from California as any place possibly could be, like we’d just arrived in a foreign country. My old house was three times the size of the one in front of me. Peeling white paint. A missing shutter. Pop-Pop’s garden took up most of the side yard; it looked overgrown. The greenhouse was the only thing on the property in decent shape.
I quickly jumped out of the car as if I thought it was going to explode; the reality was, the only thing about to explode was me.
“What’s the rush?” Emma took her time, reaching up to stretch.
I almost knocked Pop-Pop down in my haste, as he slowly made his way to greet us. He looked older than I remembered. His skin was weathered, and what remained of his hair had completely gone white. His weary eyes focused on me.
“Hello, Sarah, how was your trip?” Pop Pop asked Mom in his gruff, crackly voice.
“Not too bad. I’m happy it’s behind us. The last few miles were the longest,” she said, probably glaring at me as I stomped up the steps and into the house.
There were only three bedrooms, which meant Emma and I had to share the small postage-stamp sized room we always stayed in when we visited. There was just enough space for the twin beds with the matching quilts that Meema had made for us, and one dresser. Where was Emma going to put all of her clothes when the moving truck brought them next week? The thought made me laugh. We were used to having our own spacious bedrooms; it would be a miracle if one of us didn’t kill the other by the end of the week.
I looked around the familiar bedroom; it was hot and stuffy. It smelled stale and musty. Probably no one had so much as cracked the window since our last visit. I opened it wide and took a deep breath. It wasn’t any more comfortable in this old house than it had been in the car. I blinked back tears.
Nothing’s right anymore
When I went out onto the dilapidated porch, Pop-Pop was giving my mom and Emma a tour of the greenhouse. In no mood to join them, I looked around at my new surroundings. Corn in every direction. Unfortunately, I hated corn. It was tasteless and messy. I hated how it got stuck between my teeth.
Interestingly enough, smack dab in the middle of the cornfield across the road was a crumbling cemetery, marked off by a twisted, black metal fence. I’d always thought it seemed out of place. Now, I knew how it felt.
I was startled from my reverie by tires crunching on the driveway and fresh dust tickling my nose. Aunt Carol and my cousins, Tyler and Austin, got out of a large, green SUV. They lived just a mile down the road. Another reason why moving here was a good idea, according to my mom. She said it was important to have her sister and our cousins close by during this difficult time.
“Wow. Looks like the town welcoming committee’s arrived,” I said, my voice full of sarcasm.
Aunt Carol ignored my attitude, and gave me a rib-crushing hug. I could barely breathe as she squeezed me tighter. Her baby powder scent filled my nose and made me sneeze.
She finally released me and took a couple of steps back. “You look more like your mother every time I see you. Why, one would think the two of you were twins, with your matching brown eyes and hair. Of course, your hair is much curlier than hers.” She tugged on a curl; it magically sprang back into place. I wasn’t a toddler anymore; I hated it when people pulled my hair.
Thankfully, Mom ran out of the greenhouse. “Hi Carol!”
Everyone hugged and exclaimed their joy at seeing each other—everyone except me. I stood apart from the group, with my arms crossed over my chest, wishing I were anywhere but here.
My cousin Tyler approached me. “Holy shit. I can’t even imagine how pissed off you must be about all this.” He waved his hand to indicate my new home.
“Yeah,” I answered sardonically, shifting my weight from one foot to the other.
I went into cultural shock as we all sat down on the front porch. Left with no other choice, I grudgingly sat on the porch swing next to Tyler. He’d grown several inches since I saw him last at Meema’s funeral. He wasn’t the scrawny, lanky boy I remembered. He’d definitely filled out; he was at least six feet tall, and probably weighed close to two hundred pounds. I instinctively knew he was just as immature as he’d always been. Emma folded her lean dancer’s legs under her, sitting on the creaky wicker settee between Aunt Carol—who talked non-stop—and my quieter cousin, Austin. My mom and Pop-Pop sat in matching white rocking chairs.
“First thing Monday morning you should take the girls down to the high school and register them,” said Aunt Carol. “I know school doesn’t start for another six weeks or so, but it’s never too early to get things done. The early bird gets the worm, that’s my motto.” I rolled my eyes at my bossy relative.
I’d fallen into an episode of the
. The only thing missing was the eerie music and host Rod Serling. I glanced around at everyone else, but they all seemed absorbed in listening to my aunt.
“I already told the office that Mike’s a senior and Emma’s a junior, but you’ll need to go down to the school to make it official. Tyler’s going to be a senior, too. And my baby Austin will be a sophomore.” She reached around Emma to pat Austin on the knee. She actually got teary-eyed.