It feels a little like a cop out posting a revision after not posting anything for a while, but I really like this story. I’m revising it in my fiction workshop. I originally posted it here, but I don’t think it got too much attention. Not your fault, though. I remember posting it at like 3am, when no one is up. Anyways, check out the original if you want, and enjoy this newer version.
The sun never goes down, but it frequently hides behind the clouds, sometimes for long stretches of time. But it’s always shining, even through the clouds. On days where the clouds are too overwhelming, rain falls, the wind blows, lightning strikes–all hope seems lost.
The road itself is filled with twists and turns. There are lots of side streets, too, that lead back to the main road. Occasionally there are streets that always lead to dead ends. No signs around to tell you you made a wrong turn, the streets are narrow with cars on both sides making it impossible to turn around. In your head it feels like a challenge and you accept it.
Your ’95 Camry has been with you your whole life, and it shows. Scratches and dents all over the doors, and rust is starting to show where the paint has chipped off. The car was handed down to you from your parents. It brought you to your first job delivering pizzas, to college, and to the city, where you worked and where you hope to live one day. To this day, you feel bad about that one time you got careless, and are thankful it wasn’t totaled.
There’s a small town a couple miles down the road with one stop light. Empty, run-down houses can be found on both sides. Small restaurants and cafes are half filled with people. A park down by the river is filled with children and their mothers. Next to the park is a library, where everyone is on their computer, the only place where wifi is free. It’s easy to get lost in town. It’s always quiet, the people are friendly, despite their conservative beliefs, and the view of the mountains on the horizon is mind-blowing. But you don’t wish to stay the rest of your life. You can picture yourself staying for a week, but no more. The feeling something’s missing is always stuck in the back of your mind. Wasn’t that why you left in the first place?
If you keep going past the town, the road becomes a little bumpy. It hasn’t been looked after in quite a while. The people in town say that one day, they’ll fix the road, but they never really fix it. Only if it’s an election year will they haphazardly fill in some of the bigger potholes. It only takes a winter for them to return. There are no guard rails, either, with ditches on the side so the road doesn’t get flooded. But every once in a while, you’ll hear about someone–“just passing through”–go sliding off the road and into the ditch. The airbags are never enough. At best, you end up crippled for the rest of your life.
You can even see the mark where you slid off the road two years ago. Your arm and neck still hurt from the crash, and when you see it, you sometimes wonder if you really were lucky enough to make it out alive. You laugh at yourself and drive on, with two hands on the wheel.
Further on, the road is no longer a road. Just dirt. Totally neglected. You want to stop to say something, to ask why nothing is changing, but you go on. It’s not up to you. The road goes on like this for longer than you’d like. You’re in the mountains at this point, and in the back of your mind, you hope you the road doesn’t drop off a cliff.
It never does, though. You reach the top and the road is actually a road. You see it twist down the mountain and through the valley on the other side, corn fields on both sides with sunflowers bordering them. You can clearly see everything for miles and miles. Everything’s tiny from this high up, but you know everything gets better the further you travel down the road. You look at the rear view mirror and see a storm in the distance, going the other way. You breath a sigh of relief. And not once do you worry about gas. The tank never reaches empty.