The Blue Convertible

April 7, 2008
By Sarah Bernhards, Leesburg, VA

Softly blue, the sky was seamless. It wasn’t a piercing blue, nor the usual sky blue you would imagine with clean, white fluffy clouds hanging low, changing into familiar shapes before your eyes. No, this blue was almost hazy, as if the dry, New Mexican atmosphere had left a thin layer of dust lightly covering everything, even the sky. I looked ahead at the distant horizon where the sky met the gray mountains, which were also hazy.
The landscape was marvelous. Besides the road, the vast plain was dotted with dark green wildlife accustomed to living in this harsh region, and along the side of the road I spotted tumbleweeds, the kinds you’d always see roll across the screen in old Western films. I suddenly remembered how much I loved Westerns, I’d always enjoyed watching them with my cousin Drew. I glanced across to the driver’s seat at my cousin who had been driving through the flat terrain for hours now in “of course” his favorite sky’ blue convertible. Wait, it wasn’t sky’ blue, it was hazy blue. Everything was hazy.

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.

Ugh, must Drew start tapping again? His favorite country song came on again, but I didn’t recognize the song of course; it was country. Not exactly my style of music. But I hadn’t complained, and after a few minutes I tuned out the dull song as I absorbed myself in the passing landscape. I didn’t feel the need to talk with him, and I was glad he felt the same way. I had endured the first hour of our trip answering the obvious small’ talk questions, but then his interest had faded when he saw that I was short with my answers. He knew better than to dig deep with his questions; he knew me well despite the years we’d been apart. After all, I’d only spent half my childhood with him and his parents, my aunt and uncle.

I gazed deeply at the endless road ahead, which never deviated from its straight path. How many more miles did we have to go, anyway? Suddenly impatient, I tried to look at Drew’s right wrist, where he still wore the same wristwatch he always had, but I didn’t pay attention to that because something else caught my eye. The gas tank read empty. Almost empty at least.

“Drew! Look at the gas!” I shouted at him, anxiety and fear echoing in the crack of my voice. He stared at it wordlessly, in awe.

“Oh. Uhhh…” He sat dumbfounded. My resentment toward my cousin’s stupidity grew. Had he not even bothered to fill the tank before going on a trip, hundreds of miles long, through the deserted plains?

“Cut the engine!” He began to hit the brakes. “NO! Keep it running, it takes more gas to start it than to keep it….” My voice drifted off. What were we going to do? Should we turn back? Or should we risk going even further forward, not knowing how far civilization lay ahead? I lifted my head and stared at the hazy, blue sky as panic set in.

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