Carly and Bet felt like they’d been driving forever. Lunch at the rest stop already seemed like a distant memory. The landscape dramatically changed from the lush green and varied scenery when they dropped down out of the mountain pass and crossed the bridge over the river. The trees, leafy shrubs and meadows gave way to wide, flat plains of red clay, gnarly yellowed scrub and a seemingly endless cloudless sky stretching out all around them. Heat waves rose off the road in front of them. The farther they drove, the thinner the traffic became until all they encountered was the occasional semi headed the opposite direction toward the big cities on the coast. It was as if they were the only vehicle headed south on their stretch of highway.
Bet and Carly were on a trip to the barely-there one-stop town where Bet spent her early childhood with her grandparents. Bet drove. Carly was quiet, deep in thought with a permanent look of uncertainty since they’d crossed the river. Bet reached over and gave her a pat on the leg and smiled. Carly tried to return a smile, but couldn’t. She turned away, slouching in her seat and staring out the passenger window for the rest of the trip.
“There it is,” Bet said in an overly cheerful voice. The faded state highway sign indicated an exit for the town of Bergsland. Carly let out a long sigh.
In the distance the flat plain rose to an outcropping of several low rolling hills. As they got closer, a few dilapidated ranch houses dotted the sides of the road. Just as the countryside morphed into a desolate town center, a caution road sign read “Stop Light Ahead 500 Ft”
“It’s to the left. Funny how I remember that,” Bet said. As she turned their car at the blinking red light, Carly tried typing the address into her phone’s GPS app.
“So, no network out here?” Carly asked
“That surprise you?” Bet replied. Carly tossed her phone on the dashboard in disgust.
Bet slowed down as they approached the end of the road. Standing like a grand mansion at the end of a long dirt driveway was a fairly large home painted a bright turquoise with white trim and gables. Even from this distance, they could see the large picture window sill lined with what looked like various colored antique bottles. A dog lying on the stoop stairs sat up and looked expectantly at them. Bet stopped the car and turned to Carly.
Prompts this week are: Gnarly; Antique bottles; Flowers wilted and dogs panted in the shade.
By the way, summer is my busy time at work, but the month ahead is particularly busy with a nephew’s wedding hoopla and then I’m going to take a little time off. You might not “see” me until August. But I’ll keep in touch, so you keep on writin’ and promptin’!