Nothing ever happens in the desert. The roads stretch on for miles, cutting through the sand like an asphalt river and taking us to places unknown. We had been driving on this road for weeks now, our old car creeping along as we passed rock after rock and tried to find a greener paradise.
“I think we’ll stop at the next convenience store. I’m starving.”
Abby nodded as she watched the waves of sand pass her window. There wasn’t a soul in sight, so I pressed the gas and kept my eyes open for any signs of civilization. Finally, I saw a store in the distance who’s sign read “Red Barn Gas and Go.” It would do.
We pulled into the parking lot and stretched out our kinks as we entered the dilapidated structure. Abby immediately went to the alcohol and grabbed two bottles of wine while I ordered us a pizza to go. After a quick bathroom break, we were on our way again.
“Hand me a slice, would you?” I asked as we hit the main road again. Abby rolled her eyes at me.
“You know, it wouldn’t hurt us to eat something other than pizza. I mean, we haven’t seen a vegetable in days!”
“Yes, you have! See? There are peppers all over this slice of pizza.”
“That’s not what I mean, Gena, and you know it.”
She opened her wine and took a long drink as I ate my slice of pizza in silence. She finished the entire bottle before I had even finished my slice, threw the empty bottle in the back seat with the rest of our garbage, and passed out against the passenger-side window.
She was beautiful in the desert sunset; the warm light shone off her copper hair like a shimmering python that was coiling itself around my heart. She was everything to me, and I had to keep her safe.
Abby woke up a few hours later and stretched lazily. Her liquid lunch and uninterrupted nap had put her in a better mood, and she smiled at me for the first time in days.
“Hey, do you think we can stop for a pee break? That wine went right through me.”
“Sure thing, captain. We’ll pull over at the next building we find.”
The next building happened to be an abandoned shack on the side of the road. We got out to stretch our legs and use whatever restroom was available, and the full moon shone overhead as we opened what was left of the door and entered a crime scene.
All the inner walls were gone, which caused the roof to sag dangerously. Used condoms, needles, and other paraphernalia littered the floor, and there was a suspiciously full latex glove shoved into the broken toilet. Abby and I looked at each other before bursting into laughter. We stepped back out the door, closed it behind us, and decided that peeing in the sand was a much better alternative.
“Man, that was so gross! I need a shower,” Abby chuckled as she wiped herself off with our last baby wipe.
“Same here. We’ll grab one at the next truck stop we find.”
“On the bright side, we know where the party shack is.”
I laughed as she threw her wipe into the shack’s broken window and got into the car. She then opened the second bottle of wine, took a swig, and handed it to me. I gladly drank of the sweetness within as she turned her emerald eyes to mine.
“Hey, I just wanted to apologize for being such a bitch earlier. I know you’re doing your best to protect me, but I’m so tired of this car. How much farther do you think we need to go before we can settle?”
I took another drink as my heart sank. “Honestly, I don’t know. I’ve heard rumors of a place up North that still has grass and trees, but I don’t know exactly where it is. All I can do is keep driving and hope we find it. You deserve it.”
Abby took the bottle from me and drank in silence as she contemplated my answer. I knew she was tired of this car; I was tired of it too, and our three months of traveling felt like years. But it was the only way we could escape the sand, the shadows, and our past. We had to keep going.
Abby finally sat the bottle down and nodded. “Alright, Gena. Let’s find our greener pastures. I trust you.”
I kissed her wine-soaked lips as we hit the road in good spirits and let the desert stars guide us as we traveled home.
The prompt for this story:
Connect 3 or more of these items: A red barn, a latex glove, an open bottle, a slice of pizza, A long drive or journey, and a comparison to a reptile.
This is my interpretation. What’s yours?