Isn't that a pretentious title? Good for me! But in a way, it applies.
I love urban legends. They're so creepy and fascinating, and when you really stop and think about the life behind them-- and they really do seem to live on their own-- they're really bizarre. Really think about them, and the stories nine time out of ten really are ludicrous. A woman masturbating with a live lobster? Why the hell would she do that when you can get such a wide and frequently frightening variety of sex toys? Or why would someone steal a kidney in a motel bathroom? Pretty sure that kidney won't be reusable; bathrooms don't tend to be terrifically sterile. I really think that today's urban legends (and rural, for that matter) are an extension of the cautionary stories told by our peasant ancestors. Today's Mexican rat mistake for a chihuahua was the big bad wolf a thousand years ago.
That being said, sometimes they're closer to you than your cousin's friend's roommate. I have a friend from high school; we went to the same church and even went on mission together to Honduras the year I graduated. Miranda believed in urban legends; she'd experienced one herself.
A few years before, she and her father had driven across country, I'm not sure why. I think it was to visit family on the East Coast; it was winter when they were driving back. Somewhere in the Midwest the weather was getting meaner and meaner; fog was coming in patches, and it was that wet, freezing fog that clings to everything it touches. It wasn't snowing yet, but it the weather definitely looked like it was heading that way. The sun went down and it got really nasty; they were driving on a back road at a crawl, when they saw her. This poor young woman, huddled in a red hoodie and a skirt of all things, and she was hitchhiking.
Like most people with a soul would do, they stopped and picked her up; the weather was nasty enough that hypothermia was a real concern. She was very grateful and explained that her house was about a mile away and her car had broken down. This was juuuust before everyone and their dutch uncle had a cell phone, so the likelihood of this happening wasn't that outlandish. Miranda told her there was a blanket in the backseat, and other than the occasional directions given, conversation lapsed back into tense silence, stress over the weather. After some time, Miranda's father figured they must be getting close to the street her home was on, and asked her if they should be on the lookout for a street name.
You all know what comes next. No answer. Repeat, still no answer. When Miranda turned to look, there was no one there. Of course. The blanket was puddled on the seat, but that was the only sign anyone had been there. The car was driving slowly, but certainly not slow enough to allow a person to tuck and roll without harm, not to mention that in any car you'd hear the door and sure as hell notice that one of your passengers had decided to give low flight a try. She had simply disappeared.
Miranda's father doesn't believe in ghosts; he thinks she was an angel, there to ensure that they drove safely through the nasty weather. Miranda agrees. While I certainly believe in angels, well, you already know what I think she was, don't you?