Layla glanced down at the speedometer. She was going the speed limit, give or take a couple miles. The road in front of her stretched to the horizon, the straight dullness alleviated only by the carcasses of roadkill that loomed every few miles. Every time she saw the body of one of the poor animals, her shoulders tensed and she gripped the wheel harder, pointing her eyes forward so she wouldn’t need to see the details of what her eyes had picked up moments before. The sight of blood was almost unbearable to Layla, and had been since she was very small. She was sure there was a story to this aversion, but her family had never really been the kind to share tales and memories.
She was driving toward them now. The very people who raised her were strangers to her, and yet here she was, complying with form and tradition and going home for the annual Fourth of July blowout that her parents hosted. Her four siblings were flying or driving from their respective homes as well, and she imagined each one and where they must be at this moment. It was odd, she thought, to know that there were four other people in the world who understood the way she felt now to such an extent. None of them, for instance, every brought their new families or partners with them to the Independence Bash. None of them brought presents to their parents, not even a bottle of wine. None of them called before coming, simply knowing that their beds would be made for them and that their presence was expected.
In limbo, stranded on the road between the family of her birth and the family of her own creation, Layla felt a sudden urge to swerve into the concrete divider, but she resisted it.