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Road Trip This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Alex settled into the tiny bucket seat behind the passenger side of the Sonoma,stretching her legs over the milk crate that sat behind the middle of the frontseat. The seatbelt, which almost useless when one considering the awkwardposition of a bucket seat passenger and the present state of disrepair of thebelt itself, was fastened by the time the truck was finally started. From thecenter seat came sounds of protest.

"Must the stick be in thatposition?" Ed launched himself away from the offending piece of machinery insuch a way that he was almost hanging from the ceiling, like an iratebat.

Michael was in no more of a conventional position, wrenched around ashe was to try to peer out the back window of the truck's cab. "We're inreverse, what do you want? ae Alex, can you see if anything iscoming?"

"The back window is so dirty I can't see a thing. Jim,get out and clean it." Fishing around in the milk crate, she located a rollof paper towels, which she handed over to him as he left the cab. After beingscrubbed with the dry paper towels, the window was hardly better, and themaneuver was completed with both windows rolled down.

Once on the openroad, Ed settled slightly, but still did not cease his mumbling until Alex heardMichael say, "There, we're in overdrive now, are youhappy?"

Already half lost in a book, Alex muttered "BachmanTurner Overdrive?"

Ed turned to look at her. "Are youcomfortable back there?"

"Yes," she replied. "It'snice and cozy."

He looked at her rather incredulously. "Thatseat is about the size of an algebra book."

"It's alright. I'mheld in place by the front seat, and my feet can rest on the otherseat."

Michael turned and glanced at her. "You won't find it socomfortable when we pick up Beth. She'll be in the other one and we'll have toput that crate into the back."

Jim asked where Beth was, and Edreplied "Barstow."

In her head, Alex counted the miles. Camdento Mexico was twelve miles, from Mexico to Sodus was twenty-two miles, from Sodusto Parish was seven miles, from Parish to Barstow was eleven miles. Fifty-twomiles to stretch and relax. She loved riding in cars, especially in small, securespaces. She let the biology book fall to the floor as she stared out the dirtywindow at the snow-covered trees and house that hid on the other side of them,only a few hundred feet from the turnpike. Stretching her arms over her head, shelet one arm dangle into the front seat, where her hand was taken by Jim, whoangled his own arm over his shoulder. Sliding further down into her seat shefelt the seatbelt cut into her hips but somehow felt the discomfort would bereturned in safety.

As the flat miles slipped by, the small conversationsfell silent as each passenger and the driver became lost in their own thoughts.Alex felt each mile that slipped away without her hand being withdrawn from Jim'sas a step toward something that would become harder and harder to walk away from.Without a spoken agreement she felt lost, but she could not deny the pleasantfeeling of belonging that his dry hand around hers provided. Leaning her headagainst the headrest of the front seat, she became mesmerized by the passingminutes and miles and began to feel that it was a living person's shoulder; itwas only when she woke up slightly that she remembered that her only contact withanother human being was Jim's hand.

Trees slipped by by the hundreds; asthe only scenery they made it easy for Alex to fall into a trance. Jim, who hadbeen silent and mostly motionless since he had taken her hand, squeezed her handslightly and smiled at her. Sitting up straighter, but relaxing even more, sherealized that she did not need to decide to let his hand go.

The treessped by with the same usual monotony, but the thoughts inside the heads of thepassengers remained diversified, dancing upon the unchanging ribbon of road.


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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