We rode in mute contemplation, watching for the half-moon of evergreen trees off to the left, which marked the gravel road turnoff to the farm.
"I just thought of something, Einstein."
"Eureka! Again, alert the media!"
"No, seriously, smartass. What if the trees aren't there anymore? That was a long time ago."
"Blue spruce trees are very hearty, Judith. They'll be there."
"What if they chopped them down to make room for a housing development?"
"Not bloody likely. Chances are that Donald Trump will not erect his next tower here."
"Yeah, you're right."
"Of course I'm right," I agreed matter-of-factly, but I actually wasn't sure at all.
After a seemingly endless several minutes, I yelled, "Voila!"
Off the left, three huge blue spruce trees signaled Jude to hit the left turn lever; she did so, even though the highway was flat and barren as far ahead as we could see.
"After two miles, Meriwether, we'll come to an intersection of two gravel roads, the one we're on now and the one that will cross it. Papa's old farm should be off to the right front."
When the old farmhouse first came into view, a stillness so foreboding fell over us that it was unsettling. Jude crossed the intersection, crept up to the driveway, but didn't pull in. In a stunned state, we opened our separate doors and met in front of the car.
"With the first glimpse of the building," I recited with a voice as dead as the surroundings made me feel, "a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit."
"Poe, right?" Jude muttered.
"Yeah. Fall of the House of Usher."
Suddenly, my sister turned around at such an angle that her back faced the farmhouse.
"What are ya doing?" I inquired.
Her eyes were looking down in the direction of the front bumper, her eyelids blinking in apprehension. "Joyce," she answered with such determination that it troubled me, "we need to get back in the car, turn it around, and head back into Beresford. We can stay at the Motel 8 for the night, get a hot meal, and head out first thing in the morning. We can be home by suppertime tomorrow if we trade off driving and only stop for fast food. I'm serious, Joyce. I do not want to stay here."