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The On Ramp This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   The road is twisting and turning viciously in the revealing beams of the headlights. The light from passing cars slide down Ann's narrow chin and neck and onto the dashboard like the claws of some gigantic monster retreating from the car. But there is no horrible creature here, Ann is sure of that. Only Kerby her boyfriend, who is comfortably resting his hand on her thigh. They don't talk, so Pink Floyd is the only thing breaking through the silence in the background. Kerby tenderly squeezes Ann's leg and she automatically smiles back. Despite all of the fears and hopes that are crashing into her head, she believes that she is in love. With a sigh, Ann grips the strap of her purse tighter as the scenery outside flies backwards.

Ann turns her face toward the open window so he can't see its twisted pain and she watches as the familiar trees melt into the night behind them. They appear to be reaching out to her, their naked arms trying to hold her back and keep her locked up securely in this town forever. "Don't go!" Their branches become grasping fingers that will hook the collar of her jacket and rip Ann out of the car so she can never get free. Just one more housewife who once had a dream to be something, like her mother. She takes a tedious breath and closes her eyes, but she can still hear the dead trees screaming at her to stop.

The beat-up green Cadillac slowly begins a time warped journey around the rotary and the on ramp inches into sight from around the cement corner, appearing to beckon to Ann as the car creeps toward it. The trees begin to moan and sway even harder. As they travel around the turn, Ann is whipped by the town she grew up in like a child on a merry-go-round. In an instant she sees her high school, half covered with maple leaves where she stood for the last time with her friends only yesterday. She quickly makes a mental note to write them all someday and say she is all right. On the corner of Main Street, Ann recognizes the laundromat where she had spent three long, hot summers working, next door to the battered ice cream shop that Mr. Gould owned. Mr. Gould was a cheerful little man who appeared to taste test his products a little more than he should. She recalls bringing her little brother there almost every day one summer while she babysat him. Mr. Gould would sometimes give Teddy free cones. Ann smiles slightly at the memory. Now, just a little to the left on Freedmont Street Ann can see the old brick house she lived in for the past eighteen years of her life. The dusty backyard with the little red treehouse, which they now use to store the lawnmower since she outgrew playing in it. Far in the deepest part of the hedges in the back, a little grave lies where she buried her cat Poko when Ann was nine.

The highway is now stretching out before her like an endless black river and Ann can make out a sign on her right that states, "New York - 90 miles." The clear, bold letters were strangely soothing to her, they seemed to represent something that finally can't be taken away from her. But as she glances backward again, Ann quickly covers her ears with her hands to block out the deafening screams of the trees that ring like bells inside her brain. The strong hand squeezes her leg once more. In one smooth swoop, the battered car glides up the incline like a mammoth green bird and merges into the traffic, leaving the little town far behind. Ann opens her eyes a moment later and turns her face to the wind that is streaming in the window. Silence. The trees are now far behind her and can be heard no more than the tears trickling down her face, melting together with the inky shadows. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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Shelly-T said...
Nov. 7, 2010 at 5:42 pm
This was a great piece!  It appeared very simple at first glance, but I became very engrossed toward the middle. Great!
 
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