The kids were finally quiet in the backseat as I turned the corner towards our house. It had been a very long day. Andrea was at a meeting, and I was tired and not looking forward to unbuckling three crying children and trying to entertain them for several hours alone. So, as I approached our driveway my weary brain was unable to persuade my foot to push the brake to slow down. Only Clara was awake enough to notice as we sailed on past our house.
“Where are we going?” she asked.
“Home,” I told her.
“Uh… But that was our house.”
“I know. I just… I don’t want to go there yet. Let’s just drive around for a bit, okay?”
She made an exasperated noise, “I don’t want to drive around. I want to go home!”
I sighed, “Okay. Let’s compromise. I will go wherever you tell me to go. You just have to give me directions that will lead us back to the house.”
She looked out the window at the neighbor’s houses. “Easy,” she said with a smirk. And since we had only just passed the house a few moments earlier I knew she was right. All we had to do was turn right at the next intersection and the road would loop us right back around to our same street again. We would be back home in less than two minutes. I turned my turn signal on.
“So, where should I go at this stop sign here?”
She bent her head to look through the windshield and considered for a moment. “I think turn left.”
I flipped my turn signal to the other direction. “Ooookay.” And with that we were on our way. She lead us out of our subdivision, onto the main road, then to the highway. We drove straight through town, from one side to the other. “I know that store! We are on the right track!” she yelled as we left the city in the opposite direction eventually leaving behind all traffic lights, and then street lights, and about ten minutes after that all the head lights of other cars on the road even disappeared.
And I have no doubt that if I hadn’t stopped her thirty minutes later, we would still be out there somewhere, deep in Northern Saskatchewan, wandering the empty tundra. And Clara would still be sitting in the backseat optimistically reassuring her brother and sister that she knew we had “left town and were in the country now” but that she was “fairly certain that the country will eventually turn back into the town again if we keep going long enough. So, we are almost home. Not long now… Not long…”