On A Dusty Road

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A Young Girl Looks Back On Her Life…

Submitted: December 14, 2009

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Submitted: December 14, 2009

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The day had started out the same as any other, sunlight streaming in through the open window with the warm august breezes. We left our windows open in the summer to keep the house cool, since we were too poor to afford air conditioning. At least, that’s what mom had told me—though I’d long ago learned the truth. Exhaling slowly, I got up to stretch, and then slowly picked out my clothes for the day—jeans and a t-shirt, the typical fare for a farm girl with nothing to do. Unlike the rest of the house, my room was clean and neat; my clothes folded and put away, my floor clear of garbage and the walls pristine and unsoiled by stains or holes. There were thin curtains over the windows that waved around in the wind, and lining the walls were the posters of places I’d one day like to visit. My room: a small oasis of order in the chaotic waste of my life. Father hated me for it—not that it made much of a difference, he hated me for a lot of things, and I hated him for more.


Slowly I opened my bedroom door and slipped silently down the hallway, making sure to step around the squeaky parts of the floor. Eleven years of sneaking out of the house had made me silent as a ghost when it came to moving around. The kitchen, with its dishes piled on the counter, the bottles sitting half-empty on the table or the needles piled around the trash can, was empty except for the smell of garbage. And the living room was vacant too—no prone figures collapsed on the threadbare sofa, no sound escaping the battered TV—even better, no fresh-dried stains on the carpet! God, the house almost seems normal. There wasn’t any noise coming out of my parent’s bedroom either—guess mom hadn’t come back from the club last night. As for dad, I knew where he was sleeping.


Most likely dad was sleeping in Jill’s room, again most likely with her—unless she’d managed to sneak out after he was done. Sometimes she could leave once he fell asleep, and drag herself to the bathroom to wash up and cry in the shower, and fall asleep when the water ran out. More often the bruises and bleeding were too painful for her to even move, and she just collapsed back on the bed beside him, too tired to even cover herself with a sheet. I knew how last night had been, hearing her cries and his grunts coming through the thin walls, and then her low sobs as she laid on the bed and tried not to wake him up—I wouldn’t be finding her in the bathroom.


I went into my parent’s bedroom and started searching for his wallet—he’d started to hide it after the first few times, but dad was usually so drunk or high that he could barely remember to take it our of his pants. God forbid the day he hides it too well, and can’t even remember where! Fucking hilarious, just too damn effin funny! I found it behind the dresser, snagged twenty bucks, and went back to the kitchen for a hot-pocket thingy—the only food we have, really, when you discount take-out. Finally ready to leave, I stopped by the closet to grab a hat and the spare key—God knows if he’ll try to lock me out again—before unlocking the door and slamming it shut as hard as I could behind me.


The sun felt gloriously warm after the gloom of that house, and the light wind that had gently blown the curtains in my room now blew strands of long hair against my face. I let the wind play with my hair for a little, then wrapped it in a loose pony-tail and showing it through the back of my baseball cap—I like me hair long, but the tickling annoys me a little after a while. The sky was a clear blue, big white clouds drifting slowly through the air, and with the sun’s light shining out of the horizon as it began to rise, the earth seems peaceful. It was always beautiful where we lived, one of the few things my parents got right when they thought they’d start a family, before everything started to go ‘awry.’ Hell, they even got the location right. We lived on one of the farms near the outskirts of town, where trees covered nearly the entire property, bushes and shrubs grew out of the hard-packed dirt, and desert flowers bloomed from spring to fall. It usually got too hot for grass to survive, but the trees just grew and grew till they towered over everything for miles, which isn’t hard to do, since there’s nothing around our house for miles! There was a single dirt road leading from our house to the town, about fifteen miles long, and it’s that road that I run down nearly every day that I can.


The wind roaring in my ears, blowing my clothes and hair behind me, the feeling of my legs stretching farther and farther, my heart pumping faster and harder, its tempo increasing the quicker I ran. Gasping for air as my lungs strained to breath, air rushing cold and raw down my throat, and the ground rushing under me so fast that it becomes a blur beneath my feet—it’s a freedom that’s hard to find anywhere else. That endless track of packed dirt stretching ahead of me, leading me to town and away from my life and my family. Of course, it’s also where I hide all the things that dad would never let me bring in the house. Hell, if he even knew I owned them, he’d flip out and break everything in reach—including me.


Near the beginning of the road, off to the side where nobody would drive over it, I’d dug a pit a few feet across and maybe a foot deep and put a plastic box in it that could be sealed against the rain. Then I bought a big sheet of wood that I laid over the top of the hole, covering it with dirt to blend it into the ground. There was a small shovel hidden in one of the larger bushes that I used to cover it back up whenever I needed something from my treasure trove of hidden goods. A cell phone, an iPod, and a small laptop I’d stolen from an apple store a few years back. The wallet I’d bought on my 13th birthday was in there, with a couple hundred dollars of cash I’d worked over the summer for, my driver’s license I’d tested for on my 16th, and a visa gift card that I stored money on whenever we went into the larger city, where I could use an ATM.. There was also a bag full of clothes that I kept packed for the day that I’d finally leave home. I had another bag for Jill, though I knew I could never convince her to leave with me—not unless something dramatic happened. I was still working on what that could be. All the daily conveniences of the modern world, hidden in a hole in the ground. Sometimes the irony killed me, it really did.


It had been annoying at first, the wood standing out against the ground so much I’d had to bury it a few inches deep each time I opened it again, and my hands getting splinters and cuts from digging with my hands for the rough wooden edges. By now though, the wood and faded and warped, I’d thought to tie an old rope around the plank to raise it, and there was so much dust rubbed into the board that it looked like it was a part of the ground. I’d gotten adept enough over the years that I could get my stuff in and out in minutes without getting covered in dust or making dad suspicious about why I was standing alongside the road so often. I knelt down in the dust, patting the ground for the old rope I’d buried. Finally finding it a couple inches under the dry grit, I stood up and yanked back straining against the weight of all that piled dirt. Slowly the ground eased up, and I could throw the plank back on the ground, kneeling down in the dirt again to undo the combination lock I’d drilled through the plastic door. There wasn’t much to look at inside—though it may have seemed like a lot, all of it fit in three bags, and two of them were clothes for Jill and I. Snagging the smaller bag, I rooted through it for my wallet and cell phone and shoved them in my pocket. I dropped the gad back into the box, locked it up, and covered it all up with the old board and a thin layer of dust, before heading out onto the road.


The town was more than fifteen miles away, and on the few days when my parents would drive us down there before things went to hell, it would take less than five minutes to get there. Walking takes a little longer. I’d run the five miles there and back so many times I could count the exact number of steps it would take, or the number of times I’d have to breath, or any number of pointless facts about a dirt road. Look, there’s rock #37, pile of dirt #13, the 219th tree! If it weren’t for my neighbor, who lived on the farm three miles down the road, I’d never be able to go anywhere. And that would be a fate worse than death.



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