Year after year, she had found herself sitting in her living room, knitting and waiting. She had been knitting and waiting that night eighteen years ago, wondering when her daughter Diana would come home.
Instead, when she had answered the knock at the door, she found a policeman there with regret in his eyes. He had told her that her beautiful daughter would never come home, that she had been hit by a car while trying to hitchhike.
It wasn’t that she had never experienced grief. After all, Diana’s father had died five years before, but mother and daughter had each other.
Now she had no one.
The first year, she had almost not answered the door. It was raining, and the knock was insistent, and so finally she opened it to find a man standing there, confusion on his face, asking if the teenage girl he had given a ride to had come in the house. He had described her daughter perfectly, right down to the dark blue dress she had worn that last night. When she had told him that he’d given a ride to a ghost, he had turned pale and hurried away.
Maybe he had believed her, and maybe not.
Year after year, men continued to knock on the door on that night.
*** *** ***
This last year, she had been surprised to answer the knock and find a woman on the other side of the door, with the same story.
It had been even more surprising when the woman had come back two weeks later. It was the first time she had seen one of her visitors come back, and she had invited the woman in for tea.
“I wanted to apologize for just running off,” her visitor had said as she accepted a teacup. “I was rather startled. I had never had an encounter with a ghost.”
“Neither have I,” the woman said softly. “She has been trying to come here for eighteen years, but she has never made it.”
It was then that her visitor had made a startling suggestion.
*** *** ***
This time, when the knock came at her door, it was early evening, and she was as ready as she would ever be. She drew a somewhat shabby blue raincoat over her Sunday best, and went to the door to greet her visitor.
The sky was only cloudy now, but she knew it would rain. It always did on this night.
“I really hope this works,” her visitor said as she started the car.
So did she.
Her visitor had come up with an idea that was so simple, she couldn’t believe she hadn’t thought of it herself. It was probably due to the fact that she didn’t drive anymore, and had stopped driving shortly after her daughter’s death. There was no need, as she lived close enough to the shops she needed to either take a bus or walk, and driving had always made her nervous – even more so after her daughter’s death.
When she had explained this to her visitor, the younger woman had smiled. “I could take you,” she had offered after a moment. “I’d like to.”
If her daughter couldn’t come home, why couldn’t she go to her daughter?
She had been afraid the woman would forget about the request, but had found that the woman came to visit every few weeks. It was so nice, she thought, to have younger company around the house.
And now, it was the night she had been waiting nineteen long years for.
*** *** ***
The two of them grew quiet as they approached the area where it had happened. She had come out here once, driven by the need to see the place where her only child had died. Then, there had been no answers.
She hoped that tonight would be different.
She had brought her knitting, of course. It was good for keeping her hands occupied, and she found something soothing in the click-click of her needles, the soft yarn between her fingers. Her companion made a few attempts at conversation, but finally stopped and sat with a book in her lap.
She didn’t know what to expect, as it grew darker and the rain began to fall. She hoped that the fact of the car sitting here wouldn’t somehow ruin things.
As the evening wore on, her companion consulted her watch. “It’s about ten now, and I think I picked her up about ten-thirty. Shall I drive up the road a bit farther, and then drive back?”
She scanned the dark outside the car anxiously, and saw nothing. “Yes, maybe we should.” She was frightened – not that they would see a ghost, but that they would not.
They drove in silence, and after driving for fifteen minutes, her companion found a place to turn around. She was driving more slowly now, thanks to the rain that came down in sheets and made the road treacherous.
As they came around the bend, she caught her breath. The headlights shone on the figure of a young woman with dark hair that clung to her cheeks, and a dark blue dress unsuited to the elements.
Her daughter Diana.
Her companion pulled the car carefully to the side of the road, but before she could press the button to let the window down, the older woman opened her door and stepped out. “Diana? Oh, Diana!”
The driver watched as mother and daughter embraced for the first time in nineteen years.
*** *** ***
She hadn’t known what to expect, how real it would feel, as if she was once again hugging the vibrant young woman she had loved with all her heart, despite the fact that Diana had certainly seemed solid enough to the people who had tried to give her a ride home.
“Oh, Mother. I’m so sorry.” There was a softness to her daughter’s voice that hadn’t been there before. “I wish I had listened to you.”
“Oh my girl, my love.” She couldn’t say any more, wasn’t sure how long she stood there, until suddenly she was alone, soaked with rain and her own tears.
She walked back to the car and retrieved the small bouquet of white roses and lilies she had purchased, tied with a soft pink ribbon. Kneeling, she placed the bouquet where she had last seen the phantom.
“Goodbye, Diana. I love you so much.”
She felt sure there would be no more knocks at her door on sad rainy nights.
*** *** ***
They were silent again on the drive, until they pulled up at the curb of her house.
She turned to the driver. “I cannot thank you enough for what you have done.”
“It was the least I could do,” the driver said softly. “You see, my father was driving the car on that road nineteen years ago.”