I sat there and stared at the blank screen but refused to let it crush me under its weight. “I need something.” I demanded from the cursor. It refused to reply. I thought about surfing around Facebook or even Twitter for a prompt. It had worked before. I remembered that Readers’ Realm offers up a Flash Fiction challenge each month. I jumped over to the site and had to grin. The words were interesting, to say the least, but I had my prompt.
The story probably was not what the site had in mind – I suspect most of the offering will be on the lighter side of disastrous vacation tales. I knew exactly where I was going as soon as I saw the prompt. The story had been swimming around in my head, I just needed the right hook to pull it out.
If you enjoy the short story, be sure to check out the novel, RUN, that launches the Big Springs series. Be on the look out for more Big Springs stories to arrive through out the year.
The family chose the worst summer to take a vacation or maybe it was just the wrong time. Things went wrong from the moment they hit the road and it got worse from there. White smoke pouring from the tailpipe should have prompted them to stop and turn around, but the dad was determined.
The oldest daughter was not fourteen. He knew that family time would lose to friends and events in just a moment’s notice. He needed this to give him a chance to reconnect with his family and to build a stronger bridge with the child about to be a women.
The girl stared at the window. She had been watching the scenery slip past, but now a small spider had her attention. It had attached to the edge of her door and was holding on against the pressure from the wind of the car moving down the interstate. The white smoke saved it.
“Not now.” He slowed down and turned on his blinker. “We have to stop.” The girl waited for her mom to say something, but she never did. Her face said enough.
The girl turned her attention back to the spider. As soon as the car stopped the spider took the break to scramble down into a crevice of the door. It found safety.
The dad stepped out of the car and opened the hood. More smoke billowed out. “This may take some time.” Her mom finally spoke. Her mother offered her a blanket and a picnic basket. She and her two younger brothers climbed out of the far side of the car – away from traffic – and found a spot on the wooded hill just up from the car.
She watched her brothers run around hiding behind trees. Their giggle encompassed whispers revealed their locations and made it easy to keep an eye on them. She let her attention move down the hill to her dad.
He had been working on the car for a while before a white van pulled up behind him. The van looked like it belonged to some type of contractor, but there were no marks on the side. Two men got out. One had a swagger that made him seem more designed for one of the rock bands she listened to. The other man had the hair for the position though. Their appearance made her smile.
She followed the giggles of her brothers and found them again behind some nearby trees. She had the food and the drinks so she knew they would not stray too far. The men pulled more tools from their own truck and were now helping her dad. She was too far away to see what they were doing and her mind wandered up to the sky above her.
The sun sprinkled through the limbs above and the slight breeze danced a mosaic of light around her. She leaned back into the warmth and nibbled on one of the mozzarella sticks her mom had packed in the basket. The boys saw the food and rushed to join her. Their energy and excitement were contagious and she found herself giggling with them.
She never saw the third man in the van, but he saw her.
“Maybe this trip won’t be so bad after all.” She let the thought carry her into more play with her brothers.
The man watched from below. He had been watching for months and it was finally time. He smiled at her laughter. This would be a good day for his family.