A man was driving home one night after a fun night out on the town. It was getting late and he was heading out into the country. After driving several miles, he was startled to see a beautiful girl, standing on the side of the road. He slowed down and saw that she was signaling for him to stop. After pulling over to the side of the road, she opened the passenger door.
"What are you doing out here so late at night?" he asked. She didn't look very happy and replied "I had a flat tire not far behind me. You're the first person I've seen on this godforsaken road. Can you give me a lift home so that I'm not grounded for life?" The man replied "sure, just move my briefcase and hop in!"
The girl gave him directions to her house, which only put him a couple of miles out of his way. They rode the rest of the distance in silence. When they reached her house, she jumped out of the car, saying only a quick "thank you!" Before he could reply, she disappeared into a dense fog that seemed to form out of nowhere and surround her house.
The next morning, the man got into his car to drive to work and noticed that the hitchhiker had left her sweater laying on the front passenger seat. Planning to return it, he drove back to the girl's house and knocked on the front door. After waiting several minutes, an old, gray-haired man answered the door.
The driver held out the sweater and told the man that the girl who lived there left her sweater in his car the night before, after he gave her a ride home. The old man took the sweater and rubbed his face against it, seeming to enjoy the soft fabric and feminine smell. The driver felt he should explain a little better so he told the man that the girl had a flat tire two miles down the road, pointing in the direction that he picked her up.
The old man looked up with a sad look on his face and said "I know what happened. That young girl was my daughter. She died in a tragic car accident on the way home from prom more than forty years ago, at the exact spot you first saw her. She doesn't want to let go. You see, this happens several times a year, when a stranger appears on my doorstep, trying to return this same sweater that she was wearing the night of the accident."
Stunned, the driver apologized and turned to walk away. The old man stopped him and said "Thank you just the same. If you ever see her again, tell her that I love her." With that, the driver drove away hastily, vowing to never take that road again.
- The HitchHiker
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