The Long Drive Home

Road beyond Denver

She was quiet, hands clutched tight to the steering wheel, cheeks still puffy from sobbing.

He was noiseless in the passenger seat.  He gripped his water bottle tight, as if afraid it would disappear.  His clothes hadn’t been washed since he’d taken them off a couple weeks ago, and storage hadn’t done the lingering scent of sweat any good.

The skin on her hands was thinning, and her hair greyed at the temples.  Her lips wiggled, constant reminder of the words she couldn’t let out.  Instead she reached into the purse in her back seat and removed a granola bar.

He snatched it.  His hands were youthful, his face not yet stubbled with hair.  His arms were covered in bruises.  Swiftly his fingers found the serrated foil and tore open the package.  Though crumbled from having been in the purse for so long, he gobbled it down.  His eyes fluttered in pure delight at the taste.

She reached for the console, but then stopped midway, leaving the radio off.

He looked pensively at her, wishing she’d turned the dial.  “Are you mad at me?”

She swallowed.  “I’m glad you’re coming home.”

“But are you mad at me?”

She silenced him with a quick turn off the highway and a narrow avoidance of oncoming traffic.  The road turned to gravel beneath the wheels, crunching loudly and jolting the car.  She held the wheel steady and kept the tires from shifting over the loose rocks.

At the end of the long drive home, she shifted the car into park and killed the ignition.

They sat in the car, hesitant, testing the lonely air in their lungs.

“Are you mad I got taken to juvie?”

She looked at his face and stopped fighting back her tears.  “I still love you.”

***

This was written for the 19th September Carrot Ranch 2018 Free-Write challenge. “The Long Drive Home” was the prompt.  I was having an absolutely horrible day at work, and I wrote this during that lunch break.  As a result, all I could remember was this semi-memoir type of work.  I wasn’t either of the characters in the above, but I knew them.  When his mom left to get him from juvie, I didn’t envy her.  I don’t know how the drive went in real life, but this is how it occurred in my head. 

On October 1st, on the Carrot Ranch Facebook page, the TUFF challenge begins with an announcement of the winners.  If you want to read a really cool set of flash fictions, stay tuned!  I may or may not get in, but either way I know this is going to be fun!

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