Story a Day
“Pent, I think we’re lost.” Marlow shifted uneasily in the passenger’s seat while shielding her eyes from the sun- her red hair blowing in the wind of our old yellow convertible.
I sighed loudly. “Holy shit would you relax? What is the point of taking a road trip if you know where you’re going all the time?” I turned my head from the road and beamed at her, punching her shoulder gently with my free hand. She looked up and meekly smiled.
“I just don’t want to be late for the concert- it’s only the one day, and I can’t miss Gib’s band. It’s his big break, and I promised him we’d be there.” She rubbed her shoulder playfully, as she put her feet up on the dash, and rummaged around in her purse for her sunglasses.
I smiled, and grabbed my cell out of the cup holder to study, “we’ll make your brother’s show, I’ll call him as soon as we get into an area that has reception. We hadn’t gotten any cell signal in over 2 hours, and we were running out of gas fast. We missed an exit and ended up on a long road in a small desert, the sun beating down into our sunroof and dust swirling up from our tires and coincidently into our eyes.
“I had no idea it would take this long to get from Colorado to Nevada, we should have just taken a plane.” Marlow looked at me knowingly, pulling her sunglasses down to look at me dramatically. “However someone is afraid to fly.”
“You understand that flying costs 10 times the amount it will take to drive, and it’s way more dangerous. Look around you we’re in the middle of nowhere - the only one on the road so the risk of danger is almost nil. And look, I think I see a town coming ahead, we can fill up and ask directions if you’re so inclined. Just know your sense of adventure is now gone.”
Marlow rolled her eyes. “Just please find a gas station soon, I need to splash this dust off my face and call Gib.” Our eyes wandered to the town up ahead, it looked like something out of a movie. Perfectly green manicured lawns started just as soon as you blinked. I slowed down as we coasted past a hidden suburban town, row upon row of perfect picket fenced houses and green lawns. “Pent, how is it possible to have green lawns in the desert?” Marlow whispered as she gazed out the car window. “Oh god, look, what is that?”
I noticed before she even said it. On each perfect property was a person standing by the fence. Dozens of properties and each one had a suburban looking man standing on the corner. I slowed down and came to a stop in front of one of the men, hoping to ask directions.
“Excuse me sir, we seem to have gotten turned around, could you point us in the direction of the nearest gas station?” I looked up at the man who was no more than 3 feet away from my car. He was standing, smiling; sweat pouring down his brow into his eyes and trickling down his skin. His smile was strained, and his clothes were damp and he smelled like he had been outside all day like this.
He looked up at me, the same anxious smile on his face. Before he could answer a woman emerged from the perfect white front door. “Oh hi there strangers!” She had a southern accent and walked towards the car. The man glanced to her as she came up beside him, and for a split second shot us a look of panic before smiling again at her. “I see you’ve met my husband Ted. Ted, why don’t you go inside and get these nice people some cold drinks, why I bet y’all are parched from this here sun.” The man looked at me once again, a look of warning, before he turned and headed inside.
“Excuse me ma’am,” Marlow leaned over me out the window to her, “is it possible that you would let us borrow your phone? We can’t seem to get any signal here on ours.” She held out the phone, and the woman stared at it blankly.
“I'm sorry hun; you want to borrow our which?” The woman looked down at the phone in her hand, puzzled. Marlow glanced around, then at me as if to say ‘what is she talking about?’
“Your phone? Your home phone? Can we use it to make a quick call to somebody?” While she asked, I was looking out the windshield at the other men. All of them appeared to be dressed like they were going to a country club, and all of them seemed to be straining to stand still, sweating profusely and stealing glimpses at us.
The woman smiled apologetically. I'm sorry dear; I don’t think I know what you mean. What is a phone? She cocked her head and smiled, baffled.
My attention was drawn to the husband coming out of the house, carrying a tray of cups and a pitcher full of juice. His eyes were fixated on mine, making my heart beat madly in my chest as he walked slowly never tearing his eyes away from mine.
“You know what, I'm sorry to bother you, we’ll just continue on, thank you for your hospitality.” I forced a tense smile as I put the car into gear. A hand shot out and grabbed my steering wheel, as my head whipped sideways to see the woman had leaned into the car and was gripping the steering wheel now with both hands.
“Now, it’s rude to drive off when someone has brought out refreshments.” Her eyes pierced into me as she grabbed a glass off the man’s tray. His eyes were wide and a looked came over his face that made me realize I didn’t want anything to do with that glass. Marlow screamed beside me.
“Oh my word Louise, what a stunning car.” The neighbour swooned as she ran her hands along the hood. Louise laughed, pushing a perfectly coiffed curl away from her face and over her shoulder.
“Yes it’s beautiful; I got it for myself when Ted left me. I think I traded up, wouldn’t you?” The ladies laughed together. “Say Glenda, would you care for some lemonade? It’s so hot outside, you look positively parched.” The front door opened and someone brought out a tray of glasses sweating with condensation. Glenda took a glass off the tray and took a sip.
“My word Louise! You have outdone yourself! This is the best tasting Lemonade I’ve ever had, from scratch I assume?” Louise nodded with conviction.
“Of course, there is simply no other way.”
Glenda finished the glass and put it back on the tray. “Thank you dear, you can go.” The woman carrying the tray smiled, as sweat dripped off of her nose and onto the driveway. She turned and headed into the house, red hair blowing in the wind as she walked past the Louise’s new yellow convertible.