21 Road Trip Writing Prompts

by Joe Bunting | 133 comments

Summer is the season for road trips. Whether you are on the road yourself or only dreaming of a vacation, today we have some road trip writing prompts to make the time fly. Try one out today!

21 Road Trip Writing Prompts

This prompt was originally posted in June, 2012. Today, I'm traveling overseas and thought a few of you might also be on the road! We've added twenty prompts to the original one, but I kept my own practice from 2012 at the end. Enjoy!

Road trips yield great stories. Why? Because a road trip forces you, your family, your friends, or your characters into uncomfortable and new situations. Add to that the potential for various complications and conflict, and you have all the ingredients for a terrific story. 

Whether you want to write the story of a road trip you took, or one you're planning, or a scene from your work in progress that involves a road trip, you can use the elements of plot to help you. (See our full guide here.)

Start with a character who has a goal, and then let the complications and conflict ensue. Bring their actions to a crescendo of crisis (will they make the best bad choice to get what they want?) and deliver the climax and denouement.

A road trip has a built in external goal: you want to get to your destination, usually in a specific way for a specific purpose. But all those details can get hijacked by internal conflict, car trouble, wild roadside stops, and any other complication you can dream up. Give it a try!

Twenty-one Road Trip Writing Prompts 

  1. My original prompt was simple: Write about a road trip.

You can still do that one. But here are twenty more to take for a drive. (See what I did there?)

2. A parent and adult child have to take a road trip to sort out important family business. What happens?

3. Two co-workers have to drive to a work event one state away, but the trip goes terribly wrong.

4. A group of college seniors embark on a final road trip before graduation, but at the beginning of the second day, they pick up a hitchhiker who looks a lot like one of their professors who died the year before. 

5. A newlywed couple borrows a travel trailer and sets off on a cross-country roadtrip, when…

6. A young twenty-something trying to get home makes the mistake of stopping at…

7. An older couple has to move closer to family and takes a route that has some unusual memories.

8. A multi-family caravan road trip is derailed when a sink hole drops them into another dimension.

9. A motorcycle road trip through the Rocky Mountains turns deadly when…

10. A photographer sets out to capture pictures of the last five family-owned motels along a historic route when they discover…

11. A child convinces their grandparent to drive a thousand miles to return to a family home, but when they arrive, they are shocked to find…

Ten more road trip prompts for journaling

12. Tell about a time you took a wrong turn on a road trip.

13. Describe your dream road trip. Be sure to include details about the vehicle and riders along with the route and sights along the way. 

14. What was the best thing you ever ate on a road trip? The worst?

15. If you could only take a single route to a single destination for a road trip every summer for the rest of your life, which would it be and why?

16. Describe a time you learned something new on a road trip. 

17. Create your dream road trip playlist. Which artists and albums would you include and why?

18. Write about the characteristics that would describe your worst-case-scenario road trip buddy. (You can approach this either way: the person who would be best in a crisis OR the worst person to ride with.)

19. Find pictures of the open road in your favorite region and describe how it feels to be in that setting. 

20. What is your favorite book or film that includes a road trip and why?

21. Write about your favorite season or time of day to be on the road and describe it. 

PRACTICE

For this writing practice, choose one of the prompts above. Set your timer for fifteen minutes. When you’re finished, share your work in the Pro Practice Workshop here (and if you’re not a member yet, you can join here).

If  you post, please read and comment on a few posts by other writers. Share the love 🙂 

Here's my practice from 2012:

We're driving from California to Georgia this week, my dad and me. The first time since I was sixteen and only spoke six words to him the whole trip. We drove to Big Sur and then to Cambria where we stopped and listened to jazz in a little club along the road. It was the first time I had really listened to jazz. The piano player was blind. He could play well, the whole band could play well, but all I remember is feeling sad and alone and observant.

This time we're driving to Georgia through New Orleans where we'll sit in a smoky bar on Canal Street and listen to jazz. We drove through Texas today. Texas is normally a two day state, but for us it's a three day state. He wants to take it slow and relaxing so we'll stop in San Antonio and then Houston before making it the Mississippi Delta. I'm impatient to go faster and farther, a flaw of youth I suppose.

In El Paso we ate the worst Texas barbecued brisket either of us have ever had. Me, because it's the first Texas barbecued brisket I've ever had so it was both the best and worst. And he, because it was so dry and tasteless he had to chase it with shots of BBQ sauce just to get it down.

After El Paso we drove along Texas roads so long and flat you stop seeing road entirely and completely disappear into the black asphalt, the golden land, and the blue eternal sky that seems to dissolve the land itself.

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Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

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133 Comments

  1. Catherine Wrigley

    “Come on, Nick, are you coming or what?”

    “I’m coming, hang on.” Nicky rummaged through her shoulder bag again. “I just…hang on. Have you seen my Dramamine?”

    “You already took it. The bottle is in your pocket.”

    “Right. Okay.” She patted her pockets. You reminded your sister about the plants?”

    “I did. Twice a week. She’s going to take the orchid home with her tonight.” Jack jingled the car keys and stared her down. She started down the front steps.

    “Oh, I’m just going to check the coffee maker. I don’t remember if I turned it off.” She started back up.

    “Nick! It’s on a timer. If you forgot to turn it off, which you didn’t, it’ll go off in an hour.” She hesitated at the top of the stairs. “We already got the garbage, the modem and tv are unplugged and the refrigerator is closed. We dumped the extra milk.”

    “You’re sure?”

    “Do you want to do this or not?”

    “Of course I do! We’ve been planning it all month. You know how I am…” She smiled weakly. “ Just being thorough.” He didn’t respond, just spun the keys around his index finger before turning to climb into the driver’s seat of the rental car.

    She took a deep breath and plunged down the steps and into the passenger seat. After arranging her bag on the floor she started to put on her seat belt, but stopped. Jack’s fingers drummed on the steering wheel as he stared ahead. Nicky picked her bag back up, took out her water bottle and put it in the cup holder. She exchanged her glasses for sunglasses. Hesitating, she put the box with the Sea Bands on her lap before buckling up. She anchored herself in the seat and reached for the bar on the roof.

    “You know I’m a good driver, right?”

    “Oh, I know. Its the rest of them I’m not sure about.”

    Reply
    • Gabbyred

      I like the banter between your characters, Catherine. It’s great dialogue. It also made me laugh. I swear I have been Nick on a car trip or two.

    • Marla

      I love the mystery in this. Are you going to keep writing this? I would.

    • Catherine Wrigley

      I just might. I’ve been getting a sense of where these two might be going on their (ill-fated) trip. I’ve only been visiting Write Practice for about two weeks now, and the practice prompts are all so great I keep tucking all these little 300 word stories aside to work on later!

    • Marianne

      This is like a great study on the beginning of agoraphobia. What would happen is you followed them further. Would she want to go back. Would she worry about her home while she was gone? Very interesting theme.

    • rainybrook

      Love it. Great dialogue. Getting ready to go on a trip is such chaos. Especially around worry warts (not sure if “worry warts” is a real thing or just a phrase we made up to describe my brother) I really felt that in your piece.

    • Beth Zimmerman

      Really enjoyed this piece and would continue reading to find out more. I related to the woman’s OCD tendencies and her companions resultant frustration.

  2. Jeremy Statton

    When I was a kid, road trips were awful. I remember the miles of boredom. Green mile marker after green mile marker ticking by like the second hand on a clock on Christmas Eve.

    There was only so much we could do in the car. Read books. Play animal poker. Sing songs together.

    Seat belts were usually neglected like the leftover tuna casserole in the back of the fridge. Some states protected us with laws back then, but nobody cared. We would often fall sleep while laying in the floorboard of the car.

    My kids do not understand how good they have it. The minivan was built to keep them entertained for the 13 hour drive to Tampa. Instead of having to stare out the window for what seems forever, they can stare at the LCD screen conveniently hanging from the roof of the van.

    Instead of swiping through the pages of a book and the story hidden within the collections of letters and words and punctuation marks, they can swipe through “Angry Birds” or “Cut the Rope.”

    Instead of singing songs with each other, belting out the “I Wish They All Could be California Girls” with Brian Wilson and the beach boys, they can put on their headphones and sing along silently to Lady Gaga.

    If only my kids understood how wonderful of a world they live in with all of the technology that helps the time pass by.

    I guess someday they will say the same about their kids. In that great mystery of time and life, the present will become the past, and the past will become the present. The future will remain as it were, a better place that none of us find.

    Reply
    • Marla

      I love this Jeremy, especially the part about state laws. Great writing.

    • Katie Axelson

      Jeremy, this is beautiful. The first three paragraphs are my favorite. Oh, and “California Girls” will be stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

      Katie

    • Marianne

      Interesting idea in the last paragraph. I wonder what will happen to the human mind when it no longer has time to rest and wander (or be bored).

    • Jeff Ellis

      I really love that last line. Too often we are caught up with the Future, as if it were something we knew as well as the Past. I enjoyed the compare and contrast between then and now as a sort of reminder that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

      Keep up the good work.

    • John Fisher

      The last line is GR-R-R-R-R-R-E-A-T!!!

    • Beth Zimmerman

      Brings back so many memories of sleeping in the back of the station wagon. Things have definitely changed!

    • JB Lacaden

      The last paragraph really is just great. Though to be honest technology tends to be a negative thing because it removes the human interaction in road trips. We suddenly now have our own worlds where we’re alone along with our phones / laptops.

    • Jeremy Statton

      Actually that was the angle I was going for. Thanks JB.

    • Themagicviolinist

      I agree with EVERYTHING. (Except that I much prefer reading to electronics). 😉 😀 I HATE it when somebody says “I’m BORED.” My hair bristles at the thought of someone being bored when they have the whole world around them.

    • Jaschocolate

      Great piece which keeps me reading on. The last paragraph is wonderful. 🙂

    • Trish Barton

      I never could read in a moving vehicle.  Even with all of today’s technology,  my kid’s still cry boredom.  I think they suffer from the same “car sickness” affliction as I have my whole life.  Although, I believe technology doesn’t add anything, it subtracts a whole heck of a lot!  Loved your writing.

    • maureengibson

      It’s odd but I have the opposite reaction. I wish they could experience just a little of the joy of those good old days when we we not all separate and know they joy of singing loudly and off key hurtling down the road to a new shared adventure

  3. Gabbyred

    The rain pounded on the car, a thunderous sound on the silver metal hood of their little car as they they drove northeast to Rochester, New York. An unexpected trip they didn’t plan to take. They had no plans this New Year’s Eve so Rick had planned an impromptu road trip to Rochester. Erin had always wanted to go to New York for New Year’s eve but by the time they got on the road they knew they wouldn’t make it to New York. They settled for Rochester.
    Erin stared blankly out the window. The darkness outside made the car feel like a tightly enclosed space adding to the mounting anxiety burning deep in her stomach.
    Rick reached over and squeezed her knee. He always squeezed her knee, on car trips when she drifted and he wanted her to talk to him. She didn’t feel much like talking on this trip.
    “This will be fun,” He said to her with a smile. There was an air of genuine excitement in his voice.
    She nodded. She knew Rick had nothing planned. They would arrive at a hotel and from there they would meandering aimlessly in a strange town in the middle of the night. They would end up in a bar with strangers for the midnight count down, she was certain. She let out a breath, silently. Trying to release some of the tension inside her. She told herself it would all be fine. But, things hadn’t been fine for a while and this trip only reminded her of the disconnection that was growing between them. It seemed to be getting worse and worse everyday. This trip felt like an attempt by Rick to pull her back into him. It only really prolonged the inevitable, in her mind, at least. She looked over at Rick. He noticed and smiled at her. She gave him a forced tight lipped smile in return. She turned her attention back to the darkness beyond the car window.

    Reply
    • JadedZebra

      I like it. I felt the tension.

    • Marianne

      This is interesting. I don’t really like the narrator because I can’t figure our why she is still with this guy, but I would keep reading to see what was going to happen mostly because it’s a trip and trips often show conflict well. I like the phrase “pull her back into him”. The first paragraph is confusing I think because you say the trip is unplanned too many times and in different ways..

    • Mollie

      Good story–very heartfelt.

    • John Fisher

      I think this is an interesting narrative depicting inner tension and anxiety in the woman, who is evidenly not at home anymore in the relationship. This might make a good scene in a longer story developing the reasons for the tensions and their resolution. Does he attempt “to pull her back into him” because he wants her to be an extension of himself, or maybe his posession? In my opinion, the second “car” in the first sentence is somewhat redundant — there are all manner of descriptive nouns that could be used to fill in the portrait — their little (BMW? roadster? Toyota? the possibilities are like endless!)

    • Themagicviolinist

      The description is great. I know it was only fifteen minutes for the practice, but I was left wanting more. DID Erin end up in a bar? Or did Rick pull off something amazing?

    • Catherine Wrigley

      I love the built-in futility of the beginning (having lived near Rochester and in New York). It shows the incompatibility between the characters so clearly right from the start.

  4. Tom Wideman

    Joe, I’m sorry for you terrible BBQ brisket experience, but that’s what you get planning a road trip through Texas. Next time go through my home state of Missouri and enjoy some delicious Kansas City BBQ brisket or St. Louis ribs. Wash ’em down with a cold Bud and then finish it off with our famous Gooey Butter Cake and Frozen Custard.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      We may just have to add a day to the trip and do that. 🙂

  5. Marla

    Joe,

    I loved your story, especially the scene about barbeque. Here’s my attempt.

    Kin
    Marla Cantrell

    I’m writing a review for the new album Kin that author Mary Karr wrote with singer/songwriter Rodney Crowell and I’m thinking about drinking again. The whole thing is about drinking and pickups and firearms and cussing and drinking, you get my drift, and I’m trying to find a way to say I love the album but you shouldn’t drink, no sir, you should not drink to excess, which is what you do now if you’re a writer for a responsible publication, and don’t we all want to be responsible?

    So I’m thinking about drinking and I’m thinking about family, which is the catalyst for this album, and I say in it that family makes you as crazy as a sprayed roach, and then I worry that my family will read this and be offended, and hit BACKSPACE, and up in the cabinet is a bottle of Arkansas Moonshine that I took home from a bluegrass show last July, and it’s calling to me, all sweet and sinister at the same time, but I’ve got another story to write, about beer makers, my Lord, beer makers, and my eye starts to twitch.

    I chunk the story for now, and get back to the review. Norah Jones sings, “If the law don’t want you, neither do I,” and I remember that summer with Troy who had a twin named Roy, and how Troy stole change from Coke machines in rest stops all along I-40 all the way up to Little Rock, and how I rode with him on those black nights, and how it felt like flying to be so close to him, the quarters piling up, and his arm around me and the windows down. He took me to Del’s Place, out past a cow pasture in Clarksville, where they’d serve you if you looks old enough to do long division, and we drank beer that stuck on the bar, which I now know, thanks to the beer makers I interviewed, is not a good sign.

    There used to be a man with fancy leather pants whose entire job was to wait on the brewers, let them pour their beer on a bench, and then he’d sit on the beer for thirty minutes. If his pants stuck, the beer was bad. If he’s was at Del’s Place, it’d take a crow bar to set him free.

    In the review I say I love Mary Karr’s foray into country music, and her triumph over alcohol that led her to write Lit, and how I have my own demons, don’t we all? I say, but drinking is not one of them. No-sir-ee, I say, but now I’m sweating, and the moonshine’s talking, and Troy still lives up in the hills, a half day’s drive away, and my keys are right there where I can see them. Right there like an omen, like dare, like a bad country song.

    Reply
    • Marianne

      Wow. That was impressive. The second sentence in the first paragraph is confusing, needs to be made into two. Other that that this is great, perfect.

    • Marla

      Thanks Marianne. I think you’re right. I just started writing and kept going. It needs editing, but it was so much fun.

    • zo-zo

      Oh my goodness, I LOVE this character!! Hilarious, and I love the feel of this piece – you’ve hit the nail with the pace and ‘ramblings’!!! They’d serve you ‘if you’re old enough to do long division’, the keys are ‘like a bad country song’. REALLY enjoyed the freedom of this. Please write more!!!

    • Marla

      zo-zo,

      Thank you so much. You made me smile. It was really fun writing it.

    • Themagicviolinist

      The last bit is awesome. 😀

    • Marla

      Thank you so much, Themagicviolinst.

  6. Tom Wideman

    The sun set early on that cold night in November we hit the road. The entire family, as well as Grandpa Ace, was headed across the state to visit family for Thanksgiving. I was at the wheel, while Ace rode shotgun; the wife and kids were safely stowed in the back of our minivan.

    I hate driving at dusk. It seems my eyes have a hard time adjusting from day to night vision. The lights of oncoming cars blur and multiply on my dirty windshield. I’m convinced that every oncoming car has purposely turned on their high beams just to mess with me.

    State Highway 54 is a narrow two lane road heavily traveled by farmers, hunters and college students. That’s not a great combination; so it’s important to stay alert and practice defensive driving.

    Ace is breathing heavily next to me, fogging up the window. His asthma is working overtime due to his lung cancer treatments. I try not to act annoyed, being that he’s dying and all.

    “If we pick up the speed, we might be able to make the last quarter of the football game when we get there,” Ace said. I hate driving when my father-in-law is in the car.

    I see up ahead a police car and a truck pulled over on the other side of the road. The policeman is shining his flashlight towards me.

    “Why is he doing that? Doesn’t he know that’s blinding me?” I say, highly aggravated.
    I slow down to about forty and keep moving ahead. As I get up next to the cop with the blinding light, I hit something.

    Thud! Kerplunk-kerplunk!

    My windshield goes dark, completely covered in deer juice.

    Reply
    • Marianne

      That was great Tom. I’m so glad your posting her again. I like how you describe that time at dusk when it gets really hard to see. I can definitely sympathize with your narrator. Well done.

    • rainybrook

      Love it! Grandpa Ace is a great name. Makes me feel like he was once a powerful man and even though he is sick, his ego must be maintained. Shows the difficulty of keeping track of a lot of details at once.

    • Tom Wideman

      Thanks! This is actually a true story and my F-I-L was named Ace. And your description of him is spot on!

    • James Stone

      I can identify with your driver. Every other driver absolutely puts his high beams on to purposely blind me. It’s a conspiracy I’m telling you.

    • Marla

      Tom,

      I love your description of Highway 54. Great work.

    • John Fisher

      Really enjoyable reading, due mostly to the sardonic family humor!

    • Beth Zimmerman

      ewwww … deer juice! Great piece.

  7. JadedZebra

    I’m so excited. My parents are taking my brothers and I to a beach to celebrate my 11th birthday. We’ll camp and get to stay up late. I’m a little more excited about the staying up late part than the camping park. There will be bugs. Sandy restrooms too. But at least I’ll get to stay up late. I’m pretty sure we’re mostly going for my mom since she loves the beach so much, but that’s fine. I love the beach too.

    We always take our road trips at night. My parents probably think we’re all back here asleep. My brothers are, but I’m not. Ha. All they do is sleep. My mom says they’re always tired because they’re growing, but they’re only 13 and 15 years old. Not that much older than me anyway.

    I like them the most when they’re asleep anyway. Even if they did put me in the middle for our car ride down. I don’t know why they think it’s fair to put me in the middle of them. Every single car trip. Just because I’m a girl. Hmph.

    Reply
    • Katie Axelson

      I can feel the energy of the narrator. “I like them the most when they’re asleep anyway.” So true!

      Katie

    • Marianne

      You have a great narrator here. She is very authentic and I would keep reading were this a longer piece to hear more from her.

  8. Trudi White

    What is a road trip without snacks. My favorite road snack, well probably really my favorite snack overall, is popcorn. For the car, I usually stop at Trader Joe’s and get their salted corn popped in olive oil. Once, when driving across country, I went about 15 miles out of my way to stop at the closest Trader Joes. My boyfriend said I needed to get back “on point” if I was going to complete the drive from Southern California to Georgia. That tells you a lot about that relationship. I’m enjoying my road trip and he’s talking about being “on point.”

    That was the trip where I decided almost at the drop of a hat to move across country. I had 3 weeks to empty my house, load what was left in my car and arrive in Georgia start my new job.
    I usually don’t make snap decisions like that and after that one,and I know why. Lets just say the job didn’t even last a year.

    Now it’s sounding like I don’t have any stability, changing boyfriends, changing jobs, moveing across the country. Well I used to be the most stable person in the world. My nickname in college was Maytag – because I was so dependable. But that was a long time ago.

    I took a great road trip came when I was in high school. What kind of parents would let their 17 year old girl get in a car with three boys and drive half way across the state to see a friend’s college play? Only the best in the world – mine.

    That brings me to another key ingredient of a legendary road trip. Music. For that trip in 1984, the music that still stands out in my mind is Queen’s “We Will Rock You – We are the Champions.” Oh yeah, they were doing mashups before there were mashups. Driving down the freeway, John K’s feet hanging out the front passenger window and all four of us pounding on whatever was closest shouting “We will, We will., Rock You!” Sigh

    So far we have two key ingredients in the road trip – snacks and music. But what about the car you ask? Isn’t that an essential ingredient. Well, it depends. A road trip could be by road, rail or air. While I didn’t realize it at the time the trip I took with my parents from San Diego to Seattle on the Amtrak was a road trip too. Although I was only about 11 that was a really great road trip, too.

    So here we are at the final ingredient I have time to discuss today. The Company. At eleven years old, my parents were great company. At seventeen, three boys was even better. Now at nearly 50 I find my own company some of the best.

    Reply
  9. Mollie

    We drove for half an hour before saying anything. Cate and I were exhausted after the previous day’s drive through the south-eastern states. Waking up in Amarillo today was like opening our eyes on an entirely new world. The air was bitter, the sky straight-up blue, and the light of the sun was sharp, as if there was nothing between us and that great ball of fire. Insects were fewer, but the windshield would not get clean. I hit the dash after another attempt to clear off the glass. Cate looked at me as if she had just gotten a mouthful of dust. “We’re out of wiper fluid.”
    It was all she said, but it felt like she had just unzipped our pouch-full of problems and dumped them into the jeep. It was another jab at my ineptness, my inability to prepare for the trip, my incapability of doing any job to her standards, my lack of responsibility because I was still out of what she termed a ‘real job’, and my failure to give her a happy marriage.
    I felt like pulling over, getting out, and walking along the highway like a cowboy in one of those westerns I loved. Oh yeah, that was another thing my wife hated.
    Cate wiped her forehead. “It’s so hot, why don’t you turn on the air?” My brow must have furrowed too low for her, as I studied her, trying to figure out why I had married her in the first place; because she narrowed her eyes at me and said, “What? You don’t have to get mad just because I’m hot. It’s not my fault we’re out here in the middle of nowhere to see your parents.”
    I cleared my throat. “I’m sorry you’re miserable. You didn’t have to come.”
    She tossed her head and her red hair barely moved from all the hairspray she’d bathed it in. “Of course I didn’t. But someone has to keep you in line.”
    I laughed, completely unamused. “You know what, Cate, I don’t want any of this.”
    She hardly flinched, although I did. “You don’t know what you want, Caleb. You have no backbone. Just turn on the air conditioning and drive.” I wanted to hate her for her words, but I couldn’t because I knew her words were true. I didn’t know what I wanted. But at the same time she was wrong; I might not know what I wanted, but I knew I didn’t want her.
    As I started to count how many words we had spoken that day, she coughed and said, “Caleb, you know you need to think about what sort of job you want to get. Daddy doesn’t like you living off my allowance.”
    “I’m sure.” I grunted. “I don’t know why you have to live on his money anyway.” I said it softly, not harsh or cold, completely emotionless.
    “Shut up and drive, Caleb,” she snapped as I started to tell her how much I disliked her, her family, everything about her stupid life.
    Cate rolled her eyes. “Maybe if you stopped fooling around trying to write songs, you could make real money at something. Daddy is holding that position open for you and I will tell him you’ve taken it.”
    We sat in silence as I contemplated how best to tell her I hated everything about her. I wanted to make her hurt. Just as I mustered enough courage to say, “Cate?” she gasped and gave a tiny shriek. “Oh my gosh, where is my purse! Stop the car, stop the car!”
    I pulled over, looked into her startled, angry brown eyes and said it. The words that I had been biting back since the day I said I do. They finally came out. At least, I heard my voice yell at her. “I’m done, Cate. I want out.” I sat back and waited. Her eyes glistened and I thought maybe, just maybe she was going to cry. Maybe she would show some emotion and I would know her heart was not petrified. “Did you hear me?” I said, but the scratchiness of my voice betrayed my fear.
    There was a tiny tear in her right eye and my heart lept to think that she would react. “I can’t believe I left it. What if somebody stole it? It’s probably back at the hotel, right?”
    “What is wrong with you?” I said, hoping she would react at last to what I had said earlier. “Don’t you care that I can’t stand the sight of you? I hate being with you–I always have. Don’t you care that I don’t love you!?” I blanched, surprised at myself for finally expressing those thoughts that had tortured me for months. My emotions had felt so just, so right in the quiet of my heart, but as soon as I had spoken them, I felt dirty and cruel.
    Cate didn’t seem to care that I was pallid and sweating; if she did notice, she probably thought I was just hot from the oppressive heat.
    She tilted her chin up and repeated, “Just shut up and drive.” But there was something different. A tone in her voice that told me I had hit the nail on the head.

    Reply
    • Tom Wideman

      Painfully real and honest, Mollie. It was like they were both in different cars and conversations. I loved the line, “My emotions had felt so just, so right in the quiet of my heart, but as soon as I had spoken them, I felt dirty and cruel.” Sad to say, I’ve been there, done that. Great job!

    • Mollie

      Thank you very much. I have been there as well; I guess Caleb was really a reflection of myself at times…his quiet, cool bitterness. It felt truly awful to write those words he spoke to his wife.

    • zo-zo

      I love the fact that the wiper fluid is the spark to all this… so true to life – that feeling that it truly is the last straw, that something so small can bring so many huge issues to the surface.

    • Mollie

      Thank you–I feel the same way. The simplest things can spark a huge fire!

  10. Cynthia Hartwig

    Joe, just a note to say how much I like your photo images. You are doing a spectacular job of adding to your writing with great imagery. Love this road photo.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Thanks Cynthia. You’re too nice, though. If they’re good, though, I blame it on the flickr creative commons. I’d be lost without it.

  11. rainybrook

    She smirked to herself as she slid into the back seat. “This oughta be somethin’ to write home about.” Not that she would. The car turned onto the main road and the hum of the tires on the pavement was all that could be heard for the next half an hour.

    A crackle and a sharp voice that sounded like it was coming from inside a tin can startled her. It was the dispatcher at the sherif’s station. The sherif picked up the receiver and mumbled a response. She straightened up and looked around.

    The road lay before them like a rattlesnakes’ back, slithering silently through the hot sand. She chortled to herself. The sound of her laugh surprised her. She didn’t laugh very often. Her laugh had a different effect on the Sherif. His eyes, which were framed perfectly in the rear view mirror, narrowed. “You shut up back there” he warned.

    The warning irritated her. “Why’s that Sherif?” she hissed. ” You can’t even get at me through that fence. I never been this far outta Haxton before and I will laugh about it if I damn well want to.” She felt empowered. She whispered to herself, “I’ll never tell them who did it. I promised.”

    Reply
    • James stone

      Oh, I’d like to read the rest of this. I like her already! She sounds like a hoot!

    • rainybrook

      haha, thanks! I’m pretty sure she’s insane. I’m continuing it on my blog. http://www.rainybrook.org. Think I’ll work on it throughout the week. Post a new bit every evening.

    • zo-zo

      I love the images and feel of the third paragraph – from rattlesnake’s back to her laugh that suprised her, to the Sherrif’s eyes in the rear-view mirror. Nice.

    • Catherine Wrigley

      I love the reveal on being in the back of the Sherif’s car. I want to follow this character around as she gets into trouble.

    • rainybrook

      I’m continuing this story at http://www.rainybrook.org. I would love some input, especially on grammar etc.

  12. James Stone

    I was seven years old in 1970 and riding shotgun in my dad’s 1968 Camaro. We were headed home with the top down. We had just spent a terrific week in the beautiful hills of middle Tennessee. I had a lot of firsts on that trip. I got my first taste of life outside of Chicago. I met my grandparents and some of my first cousins on my Dad’s side for the first time, and got into my first fight with one of them. I saw my first cow, rode my first horse, played in my first barn, and I was the first one in our family to see our new house. And now we were on our way back to Chicago, but I couldn’t get the memories of that week out of my head.

    I didn’t want it to end. I wanted my dad to turn that car around and take me back and drop me off. I argued that I could stay with my new cousins until he brought my mom and sister down in the truck with our furniture. He didn’t buy it.

    I was already becoming nostalgic as the country began to give way to the city. I remember it well. We drove away from fresh country air into the familiar fragrance of Chicago. I watched in disappointment as the beautiful rolling hills and colorful trees morphed into row houses and skylines. The pastures were replaced by city streets. The reality of returning to the city was grudgingly sinking in.

    When we pulled up to the curb, some of my friends met me and asked about my trip. I just smiled and pulled out my very first silver dollar my new-to-me grandmother had given me just before we pulled out. With shrieks of joy they followed me as we ran to the five and dime on the corner of that city street in Chicago.

    Reply
  13. Jeff Ellis

    The four of us are crammed in John’s much-to-small silver pickup, ensorceled by British accents and lightning-fast guitar spilling from the stereo. There is Nothing in every direction for miles outside the truck’s cab. On a wintery Tuesday, in the dead chill of early morning, we are the only car creeping slowly up the I-5. No cars means no cops and the truck is filled from ceiling to floor boards with pot smoke.

    John is driving and I am riding co-pilot, with Pud and Sebastian stuffed into the truck’s half-assed attempt at a back seat. Wrapped in every blanket we brought, the two of them look like a giant pile of rags, hands reaching up from the cozy abyss to grasp for bowl after bowl. When John says he can hardly see anymore, we roll down the windows and I imagine we must look every bit the smoking locomotive.

    “What’s the first thing you want to do when we get back?” Pud asks. He and John just got back from this very trip a few months ago and are itching to introduce Sebastian and I to all of the things they discovered the first time they trekked up to Seattle.

    “Um…” John says and quickly forgets that he had said anything at all.

    I watch Nothing stretch on before us and then quickly slip by to make room for more Nothing, all the while a knot twisting in my gut. The first thing I want to do is hit a handle of whiskey and explore the new world we have set out for. The first thing I should do is tell them that I’m not going back to California…

    Reply
  14. James Dibben

    “We’re looking for a nurse to help transport a ventilator patient from Coffeeville, KS back here.”

    I quickly raised my hand to get my supervisors attention.

    “I’ll do it! I could really use the overtime.”

    The trip from south Kansas City to Coffeeville Kansas and back would be a long one; seven hours round trip.

    “Hey, what could be more glamorous than being able to tell my friends that I helped transport a critically ill patient two hundred miles?” I told myself.

    Excitedly, I climbed into the ambulance. The medic was already strapped into his seat which was located right behind the wall separating the drivers cab from the box portion of the truck. I had the pleasure of sitting on the long bench. You have seen this seat before in the movies or on TV. It is where the medical professional sits and works on the patient while the ambulance is screaming down the highway headed to the hospital. It is the glamor seat, of course.

    This long, bench style, seat was quite possibly the least comfortable place on earth. Imagine, if you will, trying to sit on your kitchen counter top for three-and-a-half hours while being driven down the windy, gravel covered back roads of Kansas, and every time you try to stretch your back to get comfortable, the upper cabinets gouge into the back of your neck. This is an ambulance ride across the great state of Kansas.

    Trying to lie down was worse. There was no restraining belt of any kind on this seat. It was impossible to lie down on this thing. I had to keep one leg on the floor at all times to keep from being thrown clear of the edge. Every bump in the road caused the entirety of my body to bounce completely off the firm foam seat. What I hoped would be an opportunity to sleep on the way down to Coffeeville turned into an opportunity to realize that I get severely sick when riding in the back of a vehicle with no windows.

    Once we arrived in Coffeeville I flung open the back door of the ambulance, and stumbled clear of the truck. I quickly grabbed the biggest container of water I could find, and slammed it down hoping to hydrate away my pounding headache and overwhelming nausea.

    I followed the ambulance crew into the small hospital attempting to stand as erect as possible and not appear disabled. We found our patient, complete with portable ventilator, three bags of IV medications, an indwelling catheter and a feeding tube.

    We transfered the patient onto the gurney and headed back towards the ambulance.

    It did not look as glamorous this time. The rear doors looked more like the mouth of a monster that wanted to eat me.

    Reply
    • zo-zo

      Your description of how uncomfortable the bench was was really effective. I felt that gouge and winced.

  15. John Fisher

    My red-haired sister picks me up from the store early that afternoon. We head south from Fort Worth on the Cleburne highway, and the memories set in at once of all the summertime trips to the family reunions at Ben and Sarah’s place on the Brazos River, between Glen Rose and Nemo, less than a mile from the low-water bridge, site of my near-drowning and salvation at the hands of my dad at age fourteen; I always swam like a rock, and did not realize that day how swiftly the sand bottom was washing away. The land seemed unchanged by the intervening decades’ passing. Colors shone bright and vivid — deep blue big sky, stunted evergreen trees, the large flat white rocks that line the sides of two-lane country highway. We lost our way just this side of Glen Rose, then found it just by remembering carefully. “That’s our story . . .” Sis began, ” . . . and we’re stickin’ to it!” I finished. There was a good-sized group of people at the little frame house, and we all walked up the hill to the family cemetery to see our Uncle Ben laid to rest. Quiet, scholarly (and a career school-teacher), creative, artistic, he was my absolute favorite uncle because he was so different. I’m glad I have my broad-brimmed straw hat and wrap-around sunglasses on. I have dropped twenty years, and aged forty, with this road trip. I won’t be able to make my wife understand.

    Reply
    • James stone

      Fort Worth, Cleburne, Brazos, Glen Rose, all my stompin grounds. good job.

    • John Fisher

      Thank you ! Absolutely love that country.

    • Marla

      You had me at red-haired sister. I love this. The line “found it just by remembering carefully” is wonderful.

    • John Fisher

      Thank you very much!

    • Marianne

      This ends with another interesting comment about time. I like how you put that. Good writing.

  16. Pjreece

    My father asked me what happened in the witch doctor’s hut. I said, what witch doctor? He said, you wrote a post card home, you wrote about it. What? I had no recollection. Six weeks hitchhiking around East Africa and I get home and can’t remember. How weird is that? I can only think it occured on the shores of Lake Victoria when our steamer stopped at Kisumu, giving us six hours to get into trouble. I hired a taxi to run me into the bundu for quick lookie-loo. The driver delivered me to a village where a traveling judge was presiding over an outdoor session, during which a character flaunting a pink boa and dancing to music in his own head, decided, at great embarrassment to me, to entertain me, the only muzungu. My mind goes blank. But obviously not immediately blank, because I had written home about it. I’d also written about wandering into lion country after midnight and being inticed back to town by a klatch of kids concerned for my health. They stood across the road and stopped the next vehicle, a tire truck. They unhappily put me in the back. I spent a moonlit night bouncing through Tanzania in a cage piled high with tires. I remember that. I remember getting stung by jellyfish in Mombasa. I remember getting picked up by the Tanzanian Highways minister in a cool cream Mercedez and wondering how he got the scars on the back of his hand. I remember shrimp curry in Dar es Salaam. I remember walking the Kenyan savannah country with ostriches on one side of me and zebra on the other. I remember being shit scared. But for the life of me I don’t remember that witch doctor. I reckon it’s a good thing I’m a skeptic. I don’t believe in spells. I don’t believe in much. But hitting the road…now, that’s my religion.

    Reply
    • Beth Zimmerman

      So much description in this piece. I got a feel for the variety of places in your words.

    • Marla

      Wow. What great writing.

    • Joe Bunting

      This is so great, PJ. I like how conversational and yet powerful it is.

    • Catherine Wrigley

      I want to read an entire travelogue of this trip!

  17. zo-zo

    Joanne has a headache. And we know the only thing that will cure that. The open road.

    We pile in, Snail with his leaky nose, Sammy with his fistful of chocolates and me. We squeeze in the back because Joanne needs space to allow her head to rest. Maybe in an hour or so, I’ll be bumped up to the front seat. It all depends on whether her headache is gone or not. So much of my life depends on her moods, so it makes sense to me that the tone of the roadtrip will be too.

    Nobody says anything. Snail is holding his head back to stop the inevitable, and Joanne’s glaring at him through the rearview mirror, just daring him to sniff. He knows better. I look out at the industrial building, all grey and straight, and just like the one next to my house.

    I want to ask her to drive way faster than the speed limit, way faster that’s safe, but I just scratch the pink nailpolish off my nails instead. Snail’s head’s waving to and fro with the pressure from staying bent out of shape so long, and it looks like he’s struggling to breathe. I realise I’m holding my breath just watching this play out. Sammy’s grabbing for a chocolate wrapper and tearing it open for dear life, and he can’t eat it fast enough.

    Joanne puts her hand to her temples. ‘That’s not helping,’ she says, meaning that she doesn’t want Sammy to rustle chocolate papers in her car.

    ‘Can I give you a massage?’ I ask.

    She shrugs her shoulders, which means OK. So I lean over Sammy and his chocolate, putting an elbow on his hairy leg, and start squeezing Joanne’s tight shoulders through her navy cardigan.

    It’s then that Snail sniffs. Not just a little one, but a humongous sniff that he’s been holding onto since he got into the car. Joanne slams on the breaks. I look out and see the fir trees in the distance.

    Reply
    • Marla

      This is fantastic! I LOVE the name Snail, and your descriptions are wonderful. How many times have I chipped off nail polish when I really wanted to do something else? Did you really do this in just 15 minutes? I may be jealous.

    • zo-zo

      Haha, thanks Marla! That means we’re both jealous then! 😉 Question – do you live in the South? If so, where? It sure sounds like it! 😉 I lived there for a while, though I’m in South Africa now, and find myself OFTEN writing Southern… I just LOVE the South!!

    • Marla

      I do live in the South, Zo-Zo.  In Arkansas.  I’m the managing editor of @Urban:disqus  Magazine http://www.AtUrbanMagazine.  I’m the senior writer, so I get to do a LOT of writing, which led me to my post about the road trip.  I was juggling both stories and stopped to do this.  I love the South.  Where did you live?  (I love your writing!)

    • Marianne

      That was really good. Is Joanne their mother or there sister? It really doesn’t matter, she’s in charge and she’s mean and unstable. You really have some good characters going there.

    • zo-zo

      thanks Marianne!! You’re really generous with your comments – I can’t wait to read your pieces! 🙂

    • Beth Zimmerman

      Wonderful cast of characters here! Your descriptive words are excellent. I assumed they were small children when the piece started but saw a variety of ages, and genders, by the end. Very well done!

    • zo-zo

      Thanks, Beth… So good to hear! 🙂

    • JB Lacaden

      I want to know what happens next. Interesting story. I’m curious why everything depends on Joanne.

    • zo-zo

      Thanks JB!

    • Themagicviolinist

      I like the ending when Snail finally sniffs. It was all great, Joanne’s tension, the kids trying to help but they’re not really helping, the description. I have only one thing (and really, it’s just me being picky as usual). At the beginning it says, “We pile in, Snail with his leaky nose, Sammy with his fistful of chocolates and me.” It sounds like Sammy has a fistful of chocolates and her. (I assume it’s a her since the person has pink nail polish on). It needs a comma. Otherwise it’s great! 😀

    • zo-zo

      Ha, ALL feedback – especially picky crit – is welcome!!! Thanks! 🙂

    • Themagicviolinist

      Phew! 😀 I’m always worried about being too picky. ;P You’re welcome! 😀

  18. JB Lacaden

    Read and enjoy 🙂

    ***

    The day was scorching hot. The car’s AC was broken and the windows were down. I tried leaning forward and I felt my clothes sticking to my seat with my sweat as glue. In front of me was the road—endless and vast and lonely. Above me was the sun—red and angry and was following me like big brother’s eye. I pressed harder down on the gas and the car roared in protest. I kept on driving.

    I knew perfectly where I had come from, but my destination was still a mystery. I just decided I needed a drive alone. I packed light—just a few snacks, two bottles of water, and three handpicked music CD’s. An hour of driving reduced the buildings to trees. Two hours passed and the people became rocks. Eventually the other cars became ghosts and I was the only one driving on that road. The trees lost their leaves and became bare and naked and dead. I kept on driving.

    I stopped and pulled the handbrake. I grabbed a bag of Cheetos and ripped it open. Maybe I wasn’t driving, not really. It was more of an escape. I needed an escape from her, from the words thrown, from the voices raised, and from her leaving. I needed, no, wanted to be alone. I needed to be moving because whenever I stopped, my mind would wander back to her. I’d remember stuff—the scent of her shampoo on her hair, the way she pursed her lips absentmindedly, the way she said that she just wasted two years of her life with me. The words felt like daggers. I lowered the handbrake and I kept on driving.

    I eased on the gas and the car slowed down to 20. My right hand grabbed a random CD and I pushed it in the car’s audio system—I thanked the good lord that the radio still worked. Strumming of guitars filled my oven-hot car and I knew what song was being played. It was our favorite. The playing of harmonica followed the guitars. The voices came on last. I sang with them. I sang loud. My tuneless voice rose out of the open window and into the barren landscape. I sang until the end of the second chorus. The third chorus had a different voice—a female’s. I stopped singing, smiling, waiting for her to sing—this had always been her solo part. I waited. Then, I remembered we’re no longer together. I was driving alone. The smile dropped from my lips and the song ended in silence. I kept on driving.

    Reply
    • Marianne

      That kind of points out how the end of a love affair has both it’s bad and good moments no matter how much one wants it to end. You get in the habit of having the other person around. Very well done as usual

    • JB Lacaden

      Thanks Marianne. Yeah, especially if the two of you were together for a long time.

    • JB Lacaden

      Thanks Beth. 🙂

    • zo-zo

      The sadness is tangible through all the little details you remember about her, and your description of the road. The driver’s resilience and doggedness comes through vividly – the repetition of the phrase ‘I kept on driving’ is very effective…

    • Unisse Chua

      The story just felt so sad. Like how everything revolves around a single person when you’re together. And when things get rough and eventually break, the routine, the feeling of having someone there all the time just shatters you to a gazillion pieces.

      “The higher you climb, the harder you fall.”

    • Themagicviolinist

      I loved the end where he forgets that they’re not together again. Sad and mysterious. Nice job! 😀

  19. Christy Boston

    Thomas loved road trips. It had been quite some time since he had driven one so this would be an extra special treat.

    “Tommy, I am so excited, where are we going?” Madge’s voice cut thought Thomas’s reverie, quickly grounding him in the reality that such a carefree excursion would not be so carefree. The city slugged by as they battled traffic on the wide expressway, not fast enough, thought Thomas, as that cankerous voice assaulted his right ear. “Oh, Tommy, so thoughtful of you to take me away on a trip! But for heavens sake, tell me, where are we going? You never even let me pack a bag, oh I will have to buy clothes when we get there I suppose.”

    Thomas did not look away from the view over the curve of the steering wheel as he replied in a distracted monotone. He was taking Madge on a long trip. He barely heard her as she lamented about how his boss would never approve the extended leave. This whining wife of his was always thinking on the downside. If all went well, he would not have to return to work again anyway after this journey was done.

    Honking horns gave way to the blissful hum of tires speeding along the freeway, and soon concrete melded into suburbia. Madge opened her window and the breeze tossed her chemical stiff hair all about. Thomas did not look at her once but he was sourly reminded of her presence as the scent of her expensive perfume permeated the tiny car.

    The sun was high and the freeway thinned down to a ribbon of road that stretched for miles before them. Only a few others traveled this way now, seen only as shiny dots far ahead of them in the haze. Thomas led the car off an exit and the gentle tinging of the turn signal was barely audible above the din of the engine. For a brief moment the sun got caught in Madge’s hair. For an instant it transformed her head into some feral torch while she absentmindedly studied her top notch salon manicure that Thomas had paid for with his blood, sweat, and tears.

    Flat expanse soon rose up around the little car in rolling mounds, green fields dotted with the shadows of clouds passing overhead. Thomas remembered how he used to make pictures in the clouds when he had been just a boy, back before the days of long hours at the factory, piles of bills, and the incessant company of a nagging and useless wife. What had he ever seen in her? He realized that he did not even know anymore.

    The drive back home was peaceful. It would be nearly morning when the trip would finally end, but that was ok, Thomas did not plan on going into the foundry in the morning. As he looked over to the empty passenger seat to his right, he inwardly exalted the thought of never returning to that stinking place again. For years he labored away while Madge spent every dime, but now the insurance money would more than pay him back for all the trouble she had caused.

    Thomas pulled into the driveway at last, and for the first time in years a genuine smile turned up the corners of his thin lips.

    Reply
    • Marianne

      That’s chilling. You got a complete story done in fifteen minutes. I’m impressed

    • Beth Zimmerman

      Somehow I knew Madge was destined to die the first time she opened her mouth! Excellent piece of writing. I really enjoyed this!

  20. Beth Zimmerman

    This sentence, “The first time since I was six­teen and only spoke six words to him the whole trip,” felt awkward to me but otherwise really enjoyed your piece. 🙂 Maybe it’s the word “since.” Seems to flow better without it.

    Reply
  21. Themagicviolinist

    Here’s the most basic math problem any idiot can solve:
    A road trip from New Jersey to California + No electronics allowed in the car + two annoying little brothers + an annoying older sister = BOREDOMVILLE.
    It’s every 12-year-old boy’s nightmare.
    So at six o’clock in the morning, everyone reluctantly began to pack the car, still yawning and still rubbing half-closed eyes. We barely fit all of the stuff into our minivan. The worst part (besides the electronic ban) was that I was stuck sitting next to my big sister Gabby who was popping bubble gum and chewing loudly. I rolled my eyes in frustration and sat down, arms crossed, on the seat.
    “This’ll be fun!” My mom said, giving us a huge smile and making the thumbs up sign on both of her hands.
    “Uh huh,” Gabby said. “Yeah, Mom, you can stop lying to us right now. We are not going to have fun.”
    Mom frowned slightly in her disapproving way.
    “Now, Gabby-.”
    “Why do we have to drive to see Grandma and Grandpa?” My little brother Trent inturuppted before giving a humongous yawn, showing the gaps in his mouth from the teeth that had fallen out. “Why can’t they fly on an airplane to see us? They have, like, a bazillion dollars.”
    “Trent, we thought it would be nice to surprise them, remember?” My dad reminded him as he put yet another bulky suitcase in the bulging trunk. “They always come visit us so we thought they’d enjoy us visiting them.”
    Trent stuck out his lower lip and narrowed his eyes.
    “Plus, this gives us a chance to spend time as a family,” Mom said, trying to stay positive.
    “For once I’d rather be in school,” Ben said. Ben was the second youngest kid in our family, Trent being the youngest.
    Mom opened her mouth to give one of her “school is wonderful and you should appreciate it and don’t you want to learn?” speeches, then closed her mouth, thinking better of it.
    “Time to go, kids!” Dad yelled, clapping his hands together several times.
    We all got in the car and buckled in. As soon as we set off down the road, Mom pointed out everything to us, whether it was a Texas license plate (“That’s not very common around here!”) or a calf drinking milk. (“Isn’t it so cute!”)
    Three hours later, I finally caved and pulled out one of the “Boredom Busters” Mom had packed for me. She and Dad were now singing along to a cheesy romantic duet on the radio and I was trying to figure out how to block out the screeching. I reached into the backpack labeled “Jonathon” and pulled out an item at random.
    It was a book. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. I read the back. Mom had done it. She had found a book that I thought looked interesting. I read the first page. And the second. And the third. I was on Chapter 10 when it started to get dark and Mom forced me to put the book down, (she actually forced me to put a book down!) insisting that it was bad for my eyes to read in the dark. I rumaged in the backpack for a flashlight. Unfortunately, she hadn’t packed one.
    After a few days, we reached California and I had finished the book. As soon as we stopped for a bathroom break before going to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, I begged my mom to take me to the nearest book store so we could purchase the second Harry Potter book. She was so excited that I was interested in reading, that she agreed.
    Three months later, I had finished the whole series and had watched all of the movies.
    And that, ladies and gentleman, is how I discovered the love of reading.
    And that is also discovered how much I loved roadtrips.
    (Not that I’d ever go on one again without a good book).

    Reply
    • Beck Gambill

      A good book is essential for a long road trip! How clever of your mom to introduce you to reading that way.

    • Themagicviolinist

      LOL! 😀 Actually, this story isn’t about me. I wrote it based on people I know. 😉

  22. Beck Gambill

    I had butterflies in my stomach as I packed the car. I was driving from southern Alabama to middle Georgia with a four year old, but otherwise alone. Not a long trip by some standards. Still there were plenty of unknowns. It had been some years since I’d driven most of the day, serving as mommy, navigator, and driver. Not to mention the funeral at the end of the trip.

    I checked items off my mental list. Afraid I would forget something. I like more time to prepare, but funerals wait for no one.

    The first hour or so it rained. Maggie asked me, “Are we there yet,” at least 30 times. It wasn’t long though before we settled comfortably into our trip. As I left the live oaks and Spanish moss of the coastal south the familiar winding roads through pine forests felt like a memory.

    As the scenery changed images from the past imposed themselves on my surroundings. I felt myself smiling as I recalled road trips to Grandma’s. Huge columned homes, mouldering in their grandeur, flashed by. Split rail fences; orange back roads; and grey outbuildings, decaying under a layer of vines, sped by as the road drew me closer to childhood.

    As I followed a print out of Googled directions another journey was being sorted out. The hours afforded me time. I gained perspective on a relationship that had become fuzzy, the edges smudged and undefined. Peace settled and gratitude accompanied me as the last miles fell away.

    Reply
    • zo-zo

      Some beautiful lines here! I love the nostalgia of ‘the familiar winding roads through pine forests felt like a memory’. ‘huge columned houses, mouldering in their grandeur, flashed by’ – what an image!!

  23. Unisse Chua

    Engine started. Brakes checked. Mirrors adjusted. Music playing. Camera ready. Go!

    I just quit my job and my parents wouldn’t stop bickering about how life was too short to be wasted on useless dreams like being a photographer. It wasn’t stupid. It wasn’t useless.

    The sky was starting to turn a nice shade of pink as I turned to the highway. A lovely mix of colors. I moved to the emergency lane and turned on the hazard lights. I opened the windows and framed the sky and the highway together.

    Click. One beautiful moment captured. 

    I took a couple more shots from a different angle and started to drive again.

    My GPS gave me directions to the first destination I entered before leaving: a small wedding chapel.

    Just in time, I thought as I saw the couple walk out of the chapel smiling happily at the crowd with hands entwined together. Happiness. Love. Trust. Everything wonderful in a single portrait.

    I stared at the couple and imagined myself walking down the aisle. Tears started to flood my eyes. 

    Happiness. What is happiness for me? Where can I find it?

    I let myself think for a while longer but realized that this wasn’t the only way to get happiness. Marriage isn’t the only thing.

    Time to get back in the car and drive, continue on the journey of life. 

    Reply
  24. Jaschocolate

    Terribly bad with grammar and tenses. This is my first time writing so go easy on me please.

    ——————————-

    I don’t remember what brought me on the road. I only know I needed to get out of that house, get out and breathe in some fresh air. So I grabbed the keys, jumped into the car and just went off.

    I have no idea where I’m going and when should I stop. All I wanted to do at the point was just to keep moving. Move and not think.

    I can’t remember how long I must have driven. One hour, two hours, five hours, ten hours. It’s just seemed like an endless road. A road with no destination. I can just continue driving like this forever.

    But reality pulled me back. Can I really escape? Can I really let go? Forget about the years together? Ignore the existence of our kids?

    I can’t.

    So all I can do is to give up and drove back, back to the house I ran away from. And to forget that this road trip even happened at all.

    Reply
  25. Margaret Robbins

    I still remember the car dance that Anna, Tiffany, and I created back in October 1999.
    We were on our way down to Jacksonville for a football game affectionately termed as the “World’s Largest Cocktail Party.” That’s right, the Georgia versus Florida football game. We were proud fans of the Bulldog Nation and drove down clad in our red and black. We went down there (some of us in the friend group three years in a row) more so for the football and the friends than for the cocktails, but I would be lying if I said the third was not at least a minor consideration. 🙂
    If you were to meet Anna, Tiffany, and I nowadays, you never would guess that we partook in this event. Anna just earned a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences and is about to have a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in England. Tiffany and I both earned master’s degrees and are now teachers. All three of us are and have been writers, at times professionally, at times as a hobby. Tiffany and Anna have baby girls who, coincidentally, will both turn a year old this July. I am an honorary aunt to both girls, and I greatly enjoy dancing and playing with them. Hopefully, they will be like the three of us and our girlfriends Jaymee and Laurie, studious girls who are career-oriented, but still like to have fun.
    Now, all three of us girls who created the car dance have bigger fish to fry than who wins the big game. But, I am still glad we took those college road trips. We formed friendships that would last a lifetime in the midst of screaming at football games until we were hoarse, going to “cocktail parties”, dancing in the car, and driving six to ten hours in a day to see a bunch of large college guys run into each other. I’ll definitely remember those games and road trips more than what I learned in my college classes, as much as I enjoyed reading Shakespeare.

    Reply
  26. Suzie Gallagher

    Meet Spirit and Dance. six year old twins – they went on a road trip – a walking trip:

    We call our mother “mother” because it annoys her. She would like us to address her as Sweet Divinity, the name she chose when she left home to join a commune. We found out years later she was called Mary Winifred O’Connell but we were used to mother by then and much as we would have liked to annoy her with Mary we could never remember it in time. We never really knew mother, just when we thought we understood what she was, she changed becoming more robust, or a little fragile, very political or like an earth mother. Her moods were like shifting sands, when other people were around she was always bright and shining like a beacon of hope. However when they left they snuffed out the spark of hope and we endured dark days, sometimes she didn’t cook for days or even get out of bed.

    It was on one such deep black nadir, as long as we had known, lasting more than five days that we went in search of food and changed our lives forever. We could only count up to five and we had done that and eaten all the berries we could find. We weren’t sure about weeks but we knew it was autumn as the leaves were falling from trees, it was getting colder and both of us had put on shoes for the first time that year.

    We dressed with care for the occasion of the big walk. Spirit was wearing orange corduroys with a yellow jumper that came down to her knees. Dance was wearing a dress that dragged along the ground made out of heavy crushed velvet. A dark blue matching cardigan two sizes too small finished her outfit.

    We now know that we looked wild but back then it seemed natural to have our hair streaming down our back, unkempt with twig and leaf entwined. The clothes we wore were either too big or too small, all given by these transient caravanners as part payment for water and pitch. So on this particularly momentous day in our lives we thought we looked normal and set off down the road. We decided to walk down rather than up because when the people went for a walk in the evening they always went that way and came home cheery, loud and happy.

    The first part we skipped as a new freedom descended on us, this slowly gave way to a slower pace until we were trudging. Our clothes were getting wet as rain dripped unnecessarily harshly, they hung down and got heavier and muddier as we marched our slow monotonous walk. The village started abruptly as we turned a bend, cottages on both sides gave way to terraces and eventually we saw a shop. We had brought money in mother’s purse. Although naïve about a lot of things we knew that mother gave money to get things and people sometimes gave money to her for staying with her. We pushed open the door and Dance spoke to the lady, well pointed at things; a packet of jam biscuits, a chocolate bar and bananas. Spirit opened the purse and gave it to the lady.

    Honesty was thankfully well imbued in the shop lady and she only took out the £2.30 needed. We left and sat on a bench outside, each item came out of the bag, halved and stuffed unceremonially into our watering waiting mouths. We choked and spluttered our way through the food and with hiccups stood and went in search of something to quench our thirst.

    As we turned a corner a group of children were coming the other way. We said hello to them but they laughed, encircling us, they pointed; at our hair, our faces now covered in chocolate and biscuit crumbs, our clothes, they said we smelled funny, we were dirty, and we were stupid. We cowered turning into each other, arm around protecting, not understanding why but aware of danger. The noise must have alerted some adults to investigate because suddenly the chanting stopped and we opened our eyes. A huge man stood over them asking who they were.

    Spirit spoke, “I am Spirit. She is Dance.”

    “Come on now girls, tell the truth. You have run away and stolen a lot of money. Mrs Hanrahan at the shop says you had more than fifty pounds in that purse. Tell the truth like good girls.”

    Dance moved forward, facing him, she craned her neck until she could see his face, “We tell truth, me Dance and she is Spirit, we were hungry so we came for food.”

    Spirit dragged her back to be with her and put her arms back around her

    Reply
  27. Trish Barton

    We were driving from California to
    Missouri and then from Missouri to Michigan. We would make stops
    when needed and see many states along the way. I was with my parents
    in my favorite yellow van, the one that looked like a special bus
    that I used to beg my parents not to pick me up from school in, but
    they didn’t listen. I loved the inside of that van though. The
    outside gave no indication of the awesomeness inside. The plush
    velour seats that were so comfortable and beautiful. You could write
    secret messages into the back of the chair and then wipe it away with
    one hand swipe. It was going to be a great trip.

    And then I learned my stepsister and
    her daughter were coming as well. This meant I had to share the
    inside workings of the van with someone who was not only extremely
    selfish and vengeful, but she taught her daughter to be the same as
    well. As most road trips will treat small squeamish girls, I got car
    sick about three-quarters of the way through. I think we were in
    Oklahoma somewhere when my inertia couldn’t take the moving van any
    longer; the van where I sat claustrophobically trapped with someone
    who was not nice in any way, (they even looked nasty because they had
    a black, scrunched up soul that didn’t hold very much good inside).
    Her inside ugliness seeping out hour after hour, along with the
    trapped sensation inside a moving box, forced everything I had eaten
    up until that point to eject violently from wherever I sat.
    Apparently, I was sitting quite close to my stepsister’s pink satin
    blanket. Let me tell you, her heiness (or so she thought what with
    the pink satin) was mortified.

    Although I had just given my stomach’s
    contents to her blanket, and obviously needed to just lay down, I’m
    pretty sure there was a smile there. If not an outward smile, then
    for sure a grin from deep within me. Nobody on the planet deserved a
    blanketful of 9-year old puke more than she did. There were many
    screams, a pull on the van door and much commotion to move my
    lifeless body to the side of the road where I could finish if I must.
    Her horrified screams proceeded as she wondered what she would do
    now with her blanket. I didn’t care what she did. As far as I was
    concerned, she could take her pink satin blanket with her and
    hitchhike home. Sadly, this is the memory that remains from this
    trip. Let’s just say it was the trip from hell.  

    Reply
  28. Yalí Noriega

    The day was hot and we didn’t set out as early as planned. There was always something to do at the last minute: check that all water and gas pipes were closed, set the answering machinge, leave enough food out for the cat.

    Finally, we took to the road, only stopping to buy snacks and drinks. The way was long but we were excited. We put on a tape, started singing and laughing. I thought it was going to be a great rip.

    We passed farmers bringing produce and flowers from the fields. There were stalls selling coconuts, mangoes and tepache (a pineapple fermented drink). We drove past archaeological sites that we had visited in school trips.

    Once, we stopped in a small town because there was an old cathedral right by the side of the road and we wanted to take some pictures. It turned out it was being renovated because an earthquake (and time) had damaged it.

    A little further on we saw a cutting on a mountain that was shaped like a heart. My sister loved that it seemed pink in the evening glow.

    And after a few more turns, we saw it: Oaxaca. The lights were just starting to turn on and the valley seemed magical. We had been there once before, but we were very small and could barely remember the town. I felt as if we were discovering it for the first time.

    I was excited about the history we were about to see, the gorgeous churches, the delicious food and incredible handcrafts. Perhaps we would even meet old friends. It was the best graduation gift my mom could give me, and Oaxaca did not disappoint.

    Reply
  29. Casey

     

    There are certain songs that come on the radio and make me
    want to jump in the car and head across the Land of the Free. 

    My dream is to start on the farthest east location in the
    United States and drive all the way across the United States and find the most
    Western point and then stop.

    Do I take someone with me on take this  Pilgrimage– a finding myself from east to west and back again? 

    Find the cutest convertible with the greatest sound system, because
    you will need a great stereo for that long of a drive.  Gas up and load the console with plenty of Chex
    mix, not the kind with m & m’s because they will melt.  A case of water which I will undoubtedly
    forget about and grab Coca Cola at every pee stop on the trek out west and I am
    ready to go. 

    My only dilemma is do you drive and only stop at the great
    attractions like the giant ball of string. Do I stop in the tourist trap stops
    built for people just like me that think they are witnessing real Texas when
    they buy an Armadillo keychain.

    Or do I spend a night here and take in a band and a
    meal.  Should I dance with the man who
    has grinned at me all night across the restaurant?  I could take the Tornado alley tours and
    witness what families are forced to endure every year.  I could stop at the World’s Largest Mall and
    the World’s smallest doorknob museum. 

    I have a mental checklist in my head of things I want to
    find such as the best food in Texas and the Grand Canyon and spy a look at a
    local tribe on their reservation.  I want
    to peer across the cornfields of Iowa and the mountains of Montana.  I want to say I have been to Hell and back in
    Colorado and go and watch fish be thrown at the fish market in Seattle. 

    I want to arrive on the West Coast and get out of my car and
    wriggle my toes in the sand of California. 

    But until I can do that, I will finish dinner that is
    cooking on my stove.  Until I can get in
    that rented, red, car full of Chex Mix I will feed my family and dream of a
    trip on another day from sea to shining sea. 

    Reply
  30. FrozenChip

    The intent for this one wasn’t to fit with this, but it works out that the main character is (I think) the Disney Anti-Hero. This was inspired solely by James Halls’ commentary piece:

    Before them, large, jagged mounds rose from the cave floor,
    a miniature of a landscape that belonged someplace else, where the sun was hot
    and scorching and the only fools who crossed it were adorned in thick soled
    hiking boots. Cella eyed the boy’s flimsy, tattered sneakers (if they could
    still be called that) piteously and wiggled her toes in her boots. Ah well.

    “Take these, boy, quickly now.” She toed off her
    comfortable, well-worn shoes and handed them to him, almost bitterly. From the
    light of the lamp Cella carried, he observed her barefooted-ness.

    “And what will you wear?” His little voice was expectant, as
    though he truly expected her to whip out an extra pair of shoes from inside her
    pant pocket.

    Annoyed, she hissed, “Do you want them or not, prat?”

    Silently, he took the shoes, and she felt a sting of
    bitterness, at herself, and at the boy. Feeling mutinous, she touched the tough
    pad of her big toe against the edge of the limestone landscape. At first it wasn’t
    so bad, but after a while her optimism faded, as her feet were assaulted from
    all sides by the brittle rock. She was sinisterly reminding herself that the
    boy hasn’t even tanked her for the shoes when she first heard it—an echoing far
    above them. She looked up.

    Before, the roof of the cave felt oppressive and intrusive,
    and stirred within her feelings of claustrophobia previously unobserved by her.
    Yet now, as Cella gazed up with wonder and awe, her feelings of suppression
    dissipated, to be replaced by a sudden loneliness that conjured fear. Above her,
    the darkness moved in an endless abyss, a sky where no stars dwelled.

    She stumbled as the rock broke beneath her and another piece
    fell on her left foot, digging, burrowing itself into the skin there, and when
    she lifted it, hissing, her skin oozed interlocking webs of blood. She threw the
    rock aside, where the shadows swayed mournfully and jeered at her beyond the
    broken bubble of light. The boy stood watching her, healthy and normal, and had
    just enough decency to look guilty as they trudged on, although perhaps his
    hanging head was just to watch his footing.

    Z.C.S.
    July 10, 2013

    Advice and such are strongly appreciated and encouraged. =)

    Reply
    • James Hall

      “Above her, the darkness moved in an endless abyss, a sky where no stars dwelled.” I like this, but I think “moved” is a poor verb choice. This suggestion that something is moving above them. But, at least in this excerpt, you don’t show that.

      Nice job of showing tension between the characters. I don’t think I did that well with my characters.

  31. Kathy Stevenson

    This is the beginning of something I’ve wanted to start for a long time. It is still pretty rough….

    The call came unexpectedly. A
    jarring sound that pulled him into his bed and out of the darkness of slumber.
    He realized that his time of rest was over and rolled over to grab the phone
    without opening his eyes. The high pitched voice on the other end had a pinched
    quality to it, as though the back of the throat were cutting off the words despite
    her best efforts to create them. breathily, she asked, “Aaron Jade? Are you
    still doing detective work?”

    He wondered briefly weather to
    answer or ask who was calling. Before he could do either, the raspy voice
    continued, “I need someone with your skills who can be counted on to be
    discreet, at least until my issue has been resolved to my satisfacation.”

    It was obvious she was used to getting her way, what she
    wanted, and she wanted him, or rather his detective skills.

    “Who is this?” He tried to sound harsh and demanding, “ I haven’t done a job in years. How did you get my number? No-one has access to this number unless I know about I what.”

    “Who gave it to me isn’t important.” The breathiness had
    left her voice, and a commanding, I know-what-I-want-and-I’m-going-to-get-it
    tone had completely replaced any sign of fear. “I need someone who knows his
    way around, and will do whatever it takes to complete the job. I hear that
    you’ve done business with those that have needed the utmost discretion, and
    have gotten results.”

    Jade’s inner radar had kicked in, his attention fully engaged, he recognized the old back-in business feeling. It began as a
    slight, nearly imperceptible tingle in the middle of his body, as if a clock had been set to ticking.

    Reply
    • James Hall

      Your dialog comes across as a bit fake. I’m not sure what has caused it though. Things are not quite said right, probably a little too long winded. Dialog is a little more snappy.

      More creepiness or something in the woman’s dialog would up the tension needed in the piece. The “I’m a woman who knows how to get what she wants” cliche just doesn’t cut it, in my opinion. At this point, you want the reader thinking “What is UP with this crazy woman calling?”

      On the other hand, you did say it was rough. I didn’t have to struggle with the ideas, it was easy to read. You get your point across.

      Keep Practicing and you’ll get there!

  32. Missaralee

    I don’t really know what kind of anti-hero Lindy is, but we can let her speak for herself.
    ——–
    “Today’s the day!” Tinder was grinning from ear to ear when Lindy opened the hostel door. “Our grand adventure. We’re going to save the town and bring settlers back to the North. It’s going to be a raging success, I can feel it!”
    Lindy rubbed the knuckles on her right hand absently. Tinder still bore the purplish blotch on his cheek from their row a few days ago. When Lindy had still insisted that she would return to her homestead alone and leave the colonies to their own fate. The scabs on her knuckles itched where the split skin threatened to open up again.
    “You’re not going to hit me again are you?” Tinder asked cheerfully eyeing her clenched fist.
    “If you keep grinning like that, I might. There’s no room for blind optimism out there. If you want to have a gleeful adventure, try the hologarden. We’ll be very lucky if we don’t freeze to death before we’ve reached the first outpost. And you better hope there’s fuel and shelter there. Nobody’s restocked the place in 10 years.”
    Lindy hoisted her pack onto her back and carried her heavy green parka over her arm. “Let’s get on with it.”
    A small crowd had gathered at the east gate. Tinder’s father handed him an oiled leather packet. “Pemmican, for the journey. Should keep you when everything else has frozen solid.” He handed a similar packet to Lindy, along with a second, smaller pouch. “Try not to lose my boy down a crevasse” he said.
    “No promises” Lindy said as she gingerly opened the pouch. It contained heavy twine made of horse hair, long cords made of sinew and an oiled length of catgut.
    “I know old Pete taught you how to trap, let’s hope you still remember some of it.” He rested a hand uneasily on her shoulder and gave it an awkward pat. She turned to Tinder to break the man’s touch and placed the pouch into the tall boy’s pack. The townspeople were quiet as they loaded their saviors down with gifts of fuel, provisions and tools. The headman presented Lindy with a map that looked more like it had been drawn for a child’s scavenger hunt. Their destination and the various outposts were scrawled on it with vague directional markers, landmarks and distances measured in ox legs. It wasn’t much to go on and more likely than not they would be blown off course by summer storms and never reach their destination. There were so many things that could go wrong. It was no wonder that, while everyone wished them well, no one spoke of their return. Hope had long deserted this settlement. It probably died just after her grandfather did, Lindy thought bitterly. Served them all right, sending their most valuable ally on a fool’s errand. Now it was Lindy’s turn to be sent off into the arctic night. Except no one here would mourn the loss of her skills. As for Tinder, the town already had a butcher and he would not long be needed once the herders’ dome collapsed entirely. Soon this town dome would empty and the people would go out and die in whatever way seemed best to them.
    Lindy and Tinder would have only one ox for their journey. Lindy’s own ox was left to the care of the herdmistress and a fresh one, Petri was gifted to them. Lindy preferred her own ox, but was relieved that her Snowball at least wouldn’t die on this foolish errand.
    “All right, let’s go.” Lindy donned her parka and mittens and fitted her goggles to her face. When Tinder was similarly bundled and masked, the townspeople retreated to the cafés. The east gate squealed in its tracks. The wide open air was before them. At least Lindy would be nearer to her Lights again.
    The first morning passed in silence. They took turns riding Petri and walking alongside her. On the ground, the large animal’s bulk blocked the majority of the wind. As the day grew old, both Tinder and Lindy walked on the leeward side of the ox, trying to regain the warmth in their hands and keep the sharp winds from biting the coddled dome skin around their masks.
    “How much further to the outpost?” Tinder asked. “Didn’t the map say three ox legs? We should have seen the first landmark a leg ago.”
    “I imagine the landmark is long gone, it was only a signpost or shack. Any number of storms could have ripped it down and buried it under snow by now.”
    They marched on, their eyes burning in the bright light of unfiltered sun on snow. As the sun met them direct in the eyes, Lindy knew they wouldn’t reach shelter by dark.
    “We have to make camp” she said. “Don’t argue” she said as Tinder opened his mouth. “If Petri freezes in the twilight cold, we won’t be saving any domes this lifetime.”
    She scanned the land around them for any geographic features that might block the wind and give their ox a respite from the cold. “There” she said, pointing at a strip of pale blue on the snow a hundred yards from them. “Looks like a mound or a hill or something, we can make camp next to it.” She strode off with lead rein in hand, not waiting for Tinder’s response. As they approached the strip of blue, she found it didn’t rise up from the snow as she had expected. It grew larger to be sure, but it should have blocked out the sky or something. At the very edge of it, Lindy stopped abruptly, and pushed Petri back. “It’s a hole!” she shouted to Tinder who had been looking at sky and landscape and snow. Everywhere but at his own feet where the crevasse yawned wide.

    Reply
  33. Minecraft

    5 Types of Anti-Heroes, there’s something more to talk about this anymore.

    Reply
  34. Laura C.

    Um, my anti-hero isn’t in this list? What do you call an anti-hero who is a complete screw-up in crisis and knows it, but can’t seem to stop doing hurtful things despite wanting to do the right thing, until he finally realizes the truth he needs to in order to live differently?

    Reply
  35. Patricia Storbeck

    Hi Joe,

    How are you? I had fun with the Prompt.
    ***
    A Road-Trip; 278 tunnels; seeing snow for the first time & learning to ski – on the spur of the moment.

    I know all about road trips, good ones and bad ones, boring and exciting ones. Road trips in thirty-two US States, South Africa, France, Italy, Spain, Ballearic Islands, Jamaica, Bahamas, Switzerland, England, Scotland, Belgium, Luxembourg…

    Our road trips are never planned. We don’t own a car because we own a boat. For road-trips we rent a car, dust off the worn map and go, wherever the road takes us. We love to drive on smaller roads and mostly they are not marked on the big scale maps that is why we argue a lot too, because we get lost al lot.

    But we also have amazing experiences and seen amazing places. A few years ago, in March 2010, we were in Pretoria, South Africa and our son had two days to get to Viareggio in Italy for a job. Airline tickets booked and the morning of our flight they emailed us saying we can fly to London but no further because of airline personnel strikes.
    The brave or stupid or both, Storbecks made a plan. Landing at Heathrow we had 18 hours left to arrive in Italy. We rented a car at the airport. After much hassle because we needed one with an EU number plate, Avis had no road maps and no GPS for us either. Ok, we knew we had to drive south-east to the Mediterranean. On the A20 to the Euro Channel, arriving in Calais, France we followed signs south-east. Riems, Troyes, sleeping late that night somewhere near Chaumont in an motel. The next day we drove to Dijon, Geneva, through the Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, tunnel. An amazing tunnel, 18 miles in length. Arriving in Italy we drove like a bat out of hell to Genoa and arrived with a few hours to spare in Viareggio.

    Tired, hungry and Peter very happy because the new job on a stunning super yacht, a dream come true. A few days later, knowing he was settled we made a quick detour in Tuscany, near the Italian Swiss border I saw Zermatt on the map. I remembered a friend said they go skiing there every year. That the Zermatt looked like those pictures you see on chocolate boxes. We are from South Africa and have never seen snow! ‘Let’s go skiing” we said, funny right? We drove to Zermatt, a resort below the Matterhorn, booked into a hotel, rented gear and an instructor and skied for 4 days.

    That was the most fun I have ever had on any road trip. Snow…and more snow… hiking in snow, getting lost in the dark, on the mountain, following voices to town, sliding down a steep plowed slope on our behinds, it was to steep to walk. Then the trip back to the UK. All in all we drove 2700 miles in 14 days, through 278 tunnels.

    My 15 minutes is up

    Reply
  36. liz

    It was the crack of dawn at Laguna Seca Speedway in the summer
    of 1988, the Sunday after a weekend concert. I had to be back in Portland Oregon for class on Monday morning. I was in grad school
    then and swore I would never miss another class for a Dead Show again. I hadn’t slept that night though everyone
    else in my friend’s converted school bus had managed to sleep. My shoes were somewhere under someone’s head. Did I dare wake them to say
    goodbye and look for my shoes? No. It was time to go; shoes be damned. I wrote a quick goodbye note with something about butterflies and headed for the
    freeway North. About fifteen minutes into the drive I saw a hitchhiker and picked him up. He lived not too much out of my way so I decided to drive him back to his house somewhere in Marin County. When we got to his house, I went in to use the bathroom and get a bite to eat. We sat on his living room floor and he cried in my arms because he could never see the Dead again; the memories were too painful. He and his wife had met at a show and she had just left him for another man. I held him; stroked his hair; gave him a bear hug and left on my journey, never to see or hear from him again. I then had twenty hours left to make a fifteen hour drive. No problem.
    However, my detour to his house got me off the highway and
    so I had to trek through the back roads of Northern California. Several hours later I came across another hitchhiker and picked him up. He was an
    older man, perhaps in his forties as I was in my twenties. When he got into the car he said, “Thanks for picking me up. I just got out of the
    hospital.” To which I immediately thought, “Oh no. Here’s the one I should
    never have stopped for. Here’s the serial killer I thought I’d never be unlucky enough to meet.” But it turned out someone rear-ended him and
    he had been in the hospital for a few days and when released he had no way to
    get home; his car had been totaled.

    We talked of his family, his wife and Elvis. She named one son Elvis and the other Russell
    after Kurt Russell because he played Elvis in a movie once. I drove him home too; met the wife, and the
    two tributes to The King and off I went once again with now 15 hours to make a 12 hour drive. No problem. I turned on the radio in nowheresville and up
    popped Jerry singing Sugaree, a very good sign.
    All was well. I was the angel of hitchhiker-mercy endorsed by synchronicity.
    I passed through Marysville and as I passed the town limit sign, The
    Wind Cries Mary came on. I stopped to get gas. The wind did feel a bit moist
    as if washing us in light tears. I noticed on my map I was near Oroville and a commune one Deahead boyfriend from long had moved to: Con Cow. The gas
    attended gave me directions to the commune and I showed up asking around for Rich. I found him and the woman he’d left me for living in a dome next to a pond. We skinny-dipped and milked his goats. I cried in his arms at life in general. He said his dome often got people to cry. I gave Jezebel a bear hug and took him with me to Chico where he was spending the night with some friends. It was midnight when I dropped him off. I said hello to his friend’s drank some coffee and was off again. I had to be inclass at ten am. I drove all night not
    having slept in over 24 hours. I pulled into Lewis and Clark College at 10:05 and ran to class, barefoot, in a ripped hippie skirt. The class gave me a
    standing ovation.

    Reply
  37. luke stanley

    Road Trip

    The violent weather is treacherous on the tarmac tonight, a lonely
    deserted road in the desert accompanied by a raging storm lights up the night
    sky, lightning stretches & appears to crawl across the distant blackness. This
    weather doesn’t deter this type of man who’s brain is wired indifferent to most
    others of his own kind, with no thought of consequence of personal well being. A
    psychopathic assassin has no need for normal thought processes or common sense,
    out here alone in this situation he is right at home.

    Speeding through the treacherous conditions the car is
    bombarded by dense rain where it appears nails are tearing through the sky to
    bombard this crazy’s man vehicle.

    This black hot rod engine wanes and punches through the
    weather wanting more.

    Finally our killer known as Magnolia reaches an intersection,
    the hot rod screams to a halt, this moment will be used to light up a cigarette.
    As He lights his smoke he see’s a wolf pounce onto a nearby rock on the side of
    the road. The headlights shine in the wolfs eyes. Magnolia gazes at the wolf
    when he begins to show his teeth and snarl at the car in confusion. Magnolia
    smiles and nods to the wolf to deliver fellow acknowledgement between
    predators.

    The hot rod suddenly speeds off and the road trip is underway
    again, there is not a lot of distance left to cover to reach this designated
    city of black smoke and hatred.

    An industrial erected man made monstrosity of abandoned structures have now become canvases for the
    local kids to characterize and graffiti. The sun is powerless to beings there.

    The car speeds on and
    on, in the revision mirror Magnolia sees red and blue lights closing in on his
    position. he slows down to enable these highway patrol pawns to get closer to
    the hot rod, that is just what Magnolia wants.

    The Police car eventually pulls alongside the perused car of
    Magnolias, The Police pa instructs the hot rod to pull to the side of the road
    as Magnolia increases his speed, The passenger highway cop draws his gun and
    flashes it out the window as a warning, Magnolia begins to also wind down his
    window. when the officer flashes a torch to see the suspects face, he sees a
    pale white scared face accompanied with slick long black hair.

    Magnolia begins to slow the chase right down, enough so he
    can draw his silver plated pistol and shoot the back passenger window, he
    appears to miss the squad drivers but this is part of his plan. The car speeds
    back up, the cops pull alongside to shine a light on Magnolia to fix a target
    to shoot, as the light shines on Magnolia they spot his yellowing teeth grip and
    pull out two pins of a couple of grenades, he then tosses them in the back seat
    through the shot window of the police car, One officer frantically turns around
    to collect and discard the grenades when he is stopped by the prisoners back
    seat protection grill, the grenades are trapped bouncing around on the seat.

    The police car pulls over but it is too late, the car
    explodes and it is all over.

    Magnolia turn around to pull over and marvel at this event,
    he exits his car and smiles and approaches the car, he rubs his hands together
    and lights up a smoke using the burnt out wreckage.

    He turns and faces what remains of the open road, in the distance
    he sees the city lights

    It is not long to go now until this road trip is at an end
    and Magnolia is home.

    By Luke Stanley
    luke.stanley@hotmail.com

    Reply
  38. FB

    Roadtrips. Truth be told, I’ve never had a memorable one. Well I have few images of a roadtrip I once had one with my family, but seeing as I was about five years old, I don’t remember it in details. I only know that that day was memorable, even if I did forget most of it. I just remember us being happy, my family and I. It was one of the last times we were all in one car. And that’s why I plan on going on plenty of roadtrips as soon as I’m old enough to drive. Not with anyone. With the people I love. We would listen to good music, take pictures, walk in old markets, watch the sunrise, have heart-to-heart conversations, and simply pour our hearts out and soak up all the beauty in this world. I know this idea of a perfect roadtrip is a bit utopian, but the slightest prospect of having such a roadtrip makes my heart flutter and fills me up with hope. The possibility that, in time of hardships, a simple car trip with a true friend might renew my vision of life and love, makes me have a hopeful look on the future. So, to me, a roadtrip is more than just a long car ride. It’s a ride towards a new perspective. It’s a way to show me the good in the world when I’ve lost sight. I truly hope I won’t be not disappointed when I actually go on a roadtrip. I’m almost sure that i won’t be, because I am confident in the faithfulness of my friends, no matter how little I’ve experienced.

    Reply
  39. GruBy Best but not bestest

    lel

    Reply
  40. maureengibson

    The move from California to Texas was both exhilarating and terrifying. I used to think that there would be no new adventures for me as I aged. After all I was a part of the generation that loudly proclaimed “Trust no on over 30.” That of course changed as the years flew past and 30 something became the new 20 and 60 the new 40 and so on and so on. Will death become the new life? Numerical options become somewhat limited at this point in the game. I honestly have no answers but I have made a deal with myself to stop counting and just be present for this chapter of my life. The only thing I’m currently certain about is that at this point anything other than living each day to it’s fullest and on my own terms is a waste of precious time. With that in mind each day becomes it’s own new adventure.

    Reply
  41. Dee

    Road Trip

    The icy winds blew in through the windows, the frozen path straining on the car. A heavy mist had surrounded us and my vision was restricted to just the front of the vehicle. I heard Mal and An shivering and comforting each other as I tried to plow ahead. Heather was rubbing her hands together, an attempt to keep the escaping heat in her body. She kept trying to toy with the heating systems but everything had broken down an hour ago.

    I cursed myself for plunging my family into this disaster, all holiday plans melting away. I had promised them an adventurous get-away but had never fathomed it turning into this.

    Heather was holding on to my arm and tried to soothe me. Suddenly, her eyes lit up and she looked up at me. Someone was coming behind us and we all knew that they could be our saving grace.

    I clambered out of the car, making sure to buckle myself up, ready to brace the chills. My feet; having made contact with the snow-laiden road; froze instantly and my voice struggled to escape my throat. I signalled for the driver to stop and come to our assisstance but, to my utmost panic, the car never stopped. The jet black Jeep just speeded past me and left me stranded. I was lost in thought, as to why I wasn’t offered any help when the loud honk of a horn woke me up. Heather was staring up at me and gave me a confused and questioning glance, mirroring my expression.

    I peered into the fog, hoping for anyone to come but I was just greeted by a silvery haze and an increasingly cold and fast wind threatening to trap us in a whirlwind of disasters. The only thing I could do was wait…This was turning out to be a never-ending road trip for us all!

    Reply
  42. sheetanshu

    No mountains, no lakes, no greenery, no waterfall…no beautiful brook is flowing parallel to the road in which I am travelling….so what you think .. I am in a monotonous journey you do not long for….
    The dust clearly strewn visible in black
    bituminous road crossing which appears to be a eternity.My black Scorpio has turned white due to patches. I am in a stretch surrounded by large dunes of sand on two sides… I cannot add .#beautiful# adjective to these dunes, they are dry and nothing else and I have turned drier. I occasionally wet my lips with tounges lubricating the cracks… Casting my eyes sideways I find a herd of camels traversing the desert in peace somewhere near the horizon … I am calm too but not in peace, for my senses which are not used to this silence start keeping me busy with distractions of past and future , worries and griefs maybe this is the most rewarding time for introspection.. Yes THAR triggers the philosophical side of me……
    When I had planned this trip , I had mentally imagined this scene quite numerous times but this was catalyzed by the traditional tune of KESARIYA BALAM AAVO JI MAARHE DESH…..( you are welcome to my country … The grace of lord may bequeath upon you) … But now in this very moment I am feeling so much thirsty that the depression ahead of me which appears to be filled with water makes me joyous only to make me sad when I reach there ..all my water bottles have drained and so the knowledge of miraje which I has read in my science books…………

    Reply
  43. Jacob DeMille

    The best type of road trip is one where I am not driving. When I get to look out the window and allow my mind to paint over the vast expanse of the land around me. Boy, do I love the days where I can make up catchy song-lyrics in my head, pretending that I can play an instrument, while the car speeds along the highway at ten miles-per-hour over the speed limit.
    Those are the days that I can devote to doing nothing, answering to nobody, and still see everything. I can see the earth itself, polka-dotted with trees, cars and uniform houses. I can see the occasional hitch-hiker as we tumble past him, the thought never crossing our minds to pick him up.
    I see the world as it is, a bastion of infinite artistry. I can visualize the creation of something far greater than myself, the colors that humans have forged. And from the cars we pass and those that pass us, I can see their hues and I can rest assured that each one is inherently unique, each one portrays a new gradient. Because of these observations, my mind can rest easy, letting the car hurl me forward into a flurry of colors.
    Sometimes though, when the sun becomes consumed by mountains and the radiance of the daytime becomes nothing more than a muddled shadow, I start to think of myself. I don’t like it when I think of myself. It starts with the faces. Always the faces. Faces of people whose voices I refuse to recall because they are faces of people whom I have deemed unworthy of my time, my dreams, or my thoughts. And while they have never done anything to deserve my condemnation, I have still chosen to shun them.
    Then come those who have wronged me, people whose hearts I have invested my own in and yet they chose to do the same thing to me that I have done to others. They chose condemnation over recognition. I hate them for it, and if I hate them for their ugliness, then others must hate me in the same way.
    The only color I see now in the evening light is not a color at all, it’s more like a feeling. It cannot be explained, our language does not denote the existence of this color; it simply is.
    I peer into the side-view mirror from the backseat of the car, the sun almost finished banishing itself into the abyss of western mountains, and I can no longer see myself. All I see is the ever-elusive color, and a crowd of faces in front of mine.

    Reply

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