Get it here:
As she headed toward the highway, her backpack now stocked with food and drinks from the convenience store, she stumbled and nearly toppled over, light-headed and dizzy, her chest tight and shooting pain. Her heart raced and rattled in her chest. If she were alive today, she would most likely know she was having a panic attack. But in 1970, at the age of fifteen, Charlie was sure she was having a heart attack or a stroke. She collapsed onto the shoulder of the road, her hand on her throat feeling her pulse, her breath coming in short, jagged bursts. She squeezed her eyes shut and fought the urge to vomit.
A long white Cadillac pulled alongside her and the passenger window slid down. A voice came from inside.
“Hey! Are you okay?” The voice was female and strangely chipper.
Charlie climbed to her feet and nearly lost her balance. She held onto the side of the car and looked into the open window. The driver was a woman who was maybe thirty, her blond hair impeccable, almost glowing, held in place with a head band. Dark sunglasses in white frames covered her eyes. She lowered them and looked at Charlie.
“You look awful.”
“I’m just really tired. I’m okay.”
Charlie let go of the car and started to walk. The woman eased forward, matching her pace, watching her through the window.
“Do you live around here, honey?” the woman asked.
“No I don’t. I’m on my way to California.”
“Oh dear. You’re a long way from California. Why don’t you hop in? We’ll get you something to drink and off your feet for a bit.”
Charlie looked at the woman, who smiled. Charlie nodded and got into the car. The comforting smell of vanilla wafted off the woman. It instantly brought up warm memories that she couldn’t quite place, but enjoyed the essence of. She was sweating and nauseated and it was a relief to get off the road and into a car with someone who not likely to molest her. The woman held out her hand and introduced herself. She was wearing dainty little white leather driving gloves.
Charlie took her hand and shook, feeling awkward about it. Growing up in a small town, she wasn’t often introduced to people she didn’t know. Especially women who looked and dressed like Kim Novak in Vertigo.
“That’s a boy’s name!” Caroline laughed, in a pleasant and completely sincere tone. Charlie had heard that plenty from kids growing up, but didn’t feel up to explaining her name. Caroline pulled the car back onto the road.
“So what’s your story, Charlie?”