The West Virginian Starfish HYTEN DAVIDSON
ichard Karn was just signing off from a rerun of Family Feud as Carly’s eyes began to close when the phone rang. She languidly rose from the couch, eyes on the screen as she answered. “You hurt or anything?” she greeted. “All right. Give me. . .fifteen minutes. Okay.” The tires of her truck grinded to a halt where the gravel driveway met padded earth of the Appalachian Trail as her high beams flashed first over the scan of trees, then a handmade white sign. The sign read, in red paint, “Give up? Call for pickup. 757-8245.” Next to the sign stood a scrawny girl wearing a backpack bigger than she, raising her hand against the beams’ light. Carly rolled down her window and waved the girl over. After heaving her backpack up and over into the bed of the truck, the girl crawled into the passenger’s seat and half-heartedly smiled at Carly. They pulled away.
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Driving back down the lonely road to Harper’s Ferry, both girls kept quiet to themselves. Carly never wanted to pry, and didn’t care too much anyway. The girl was crumpled up against the passenger door, head bowed, stifling defeated tears. This was not unusual. Bigger and stronger men than she had ridden in Carly’s truck, unabashedly bawling, mourning the end, having failed themselves. “It was nice to hear a girl’s voice on the phone, you know?” the girl feebly tossed out. Carly shrugged. “What’s your name?” Carly offered back, as the girl’s head was beginning to droop back into shame. “Exodus,” the passenger mumbled. This perked Carly up. If nothing else about this, she did enjoy the guessing game. “Okay. . .let me guess. This was your big religious pilgrimage. You’re going to be a youth leader or something? And I bet you named yourself before you hit the trail.”