Her problems faded out of sight in the rear-view mirror and she relished the roar of the highway wind. In a few minutes, maybe, she would turn on the radio, twist the volume up until it rumbled in her floorboards, her seat, her lungs. Until it filled the car and pushed the horizon farther away. She usually did, just as part of ignition, listening to the engine turn over once before she drowned it out with drums and guitar.
A friend had told her once that there was a science to why music sounded better when it was cranked up loud. She didn’t need the excuse, but she used it just the same, turning the dial higher. Turning decent songs good, and good songs great. Forcing everything back.
One answer served. It just takes a long time.
Kate Kearney searched: Would you create some alphabet instructions for an amazing roadtrip?
Let’s get started:
Announce your intentions to take a massively awesome trip. For each acquaintance who is aware that you are going, it becomes one order of magnitude harder to back out of your plans. You can explain yourself to your friends. Your acquaintances will be waiting to live vicariously through you, and it gets awkward when you disappoint them.
Bring friends. Whether you’ll be driving far enough each day to want to take turns driving or not, you do want the company. You do not want to be so desperate for human interaction that you become one of those people who strikes up a conversation in the gas station restroom.
If you take me on a road-trip, I will want a lot of friends. We will pack them in the car and move them around until we learn exactly where we all fit in the over-stuffed car.
If you give me a lot of friends, I will want a longer road, so it goes on and on and on and on.
If you give me a longer road, I will want to turn the music up loud. I have been told that it is hard to dance inside a moving car, but I have learned not to believe everything I have been told.
“It’s a shame about your face,” Leah said.
Standing at the side of the road with her arms crossed, Shae glanced at her, then glanced back down the winding pavement. “Thanks,” she said.
“I mean, you just had it waxed,” Leah said.
Shae bit her lip, ran her tongue along the edge of it, and nodded again. “Yeah…”
The car broke down. The engine didn’t even have the decency to sputter out a warning, just clunked to a stop and the car rolled gently forward in eerie silence. Ryan turned the key once, then eased the wheel over until they drifted to a stop on the shoulder. He murmured encouragement to the car and then tried the key two more times, but the engine refused to roll over. Kara looked out the dark window at the snow falling fast in heavy flakes. Already she thought she could feel the cold sneaking up through the floor of the car.
Buttoning his coat tight to his chin, Ryan ducked out the of the car and spent a minute looking under the hood. Kara shoved her hands into the pockets of her jacket and counted seconds. When he came back around her side of the car, she knew there was trouble.
He opened her door. “You wanna take a hike with me?” he asked. His breath came out like smoke.
She stared at him, shuddering at the cold pouring into the car. “No.”
“Too bad,” he said. He offered his hand to help her out.
“Doing anything this weekend?” Ben asked. He sat down across the table from Kayla, sideways, one elbow propped on the back of his chair, the other on the tabletop, as if he expected to leave again in a moment.
Kayla looked up from her laptop. Late Friday morning and the dining hall was dead. The hushed sound of running water and clinking dishes came from the kitchen, out of sight. Most people were still in class, or still in bed. Kayla had dragged herself out of her dorm for an 8 o’clock class, and hadn’t quite talked herself into going back for a nap. Until Ben walked in, she’d been alone in the cavernous hall.
“I don’t think so,” she told him. “I should probably start on the paper for Spenkler, but it hasn’t reach crunch time, so… I probably won’t. Have you started the research for that yet?”
Ben snorted. He shook his head. “Like you said. Not crunch time yet.” He slid a quarter out of his pocket and set it on the table between them with a click. He looked at her questioningly.
Haley stopped to stare at the coin. Glancing around the dining hall, she leaned forward. “Now?” she whispered, even though there was no one around to hear her.
I’m a distrustful human being, particularly in situations that necessitate some amount of good luck. Case and Point: The Truculent Wonder and I just scratched “gambling in Las Vegas” off our Bucket Lists. We set a five dollar limit. She broke even. I lost five dollars. My luck cuts out on me at all the wrong moments.
I love heights. I have since I was a kid. I love hauling myself into trees, or looking down the edge of a cliff. I love the breeze you get at the top of a mountain and I love watching tiny cities slide by airplane windows. I like knowing I’ve reached higher than ninety percent of the population would have considered, and that I’ve stood in wild places.
Combine these two things. What do you get? A human being who climbs cliffs, but gets terrified halfway up when she thinks she needs an inch of luck to make sure her foot doesn’t slip.