Almost Home

Zhulie W

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Bags, check. Wallet, check. Phone, check. Snacks, check. It was going to be a long drive home from San Diego to Tracy, but Zara did not mind one bit. She was going to be home in a couple hours, and the thought of seeing her parents and little brother Sam was enough to make the long drive bearable. Exciting, even. Her phone buzzed, and Zara looked down and smiled, her friends in the group chat were sending pictures from when they had spent Christmas Eve together last year. It seemed so long ago and from the pictures and videos, it was long ago too. They had all changed a bit since going to college, but still were as goofy and loud as before whenever they got together. She missed them so much. The drive was long and traffic was crazy, but thinking about seeing her friends and family made it bearable, along with her Long Drives playlist. “Zara, I can’t wait for you to come home. By the way, I am texting you from my news phone. Mom and dad let me open presents early this year.” Zara looked at the suggested contact and saw the name “Sam.” “Oh my gosh Sam! You got a new phone? I could not have a phone until I got into high school,” she replied. “Haha. Mom and dad just love me more I guess. But now I can call you everyday when your at college without having to beg Mom or Dad for their phone” he replied. “Yup,” she replied, grinning. She heard a car honk behind her and noticed traffic had started moving again. With a big smile on her face, she continued driving. Eight hours later, she was at the exit to her house. Everything was already starting to look so familiar and comforting. Everything looked exactly like the way it was when she left in the summer. She drove through the green lights, butterflies fluttering around in her stomach. She was almost home. She could see the street to her house down the road to her right. She felt her phone buzz, and glanced down. Zoe, from the group chat, had texted a picture of Zara from two years ago. She opened the text. Oh my goodness, she looked terrible. They had caught her off-guard in the picture. “Guys, that’s not funny-“ There was a loud crash. A truck had been making a turn, and Zara had not noticed. Her car flipped over three times. It had been loud, the sound of screeching tires, crushed, metal, and breaking glass sounded amplified. Then, all was silent. There was no way she could have survived it.