• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 10

Easy Road

Sitting shotgun in Lila’s pickup truck, I gazed at the smoky dusty road behind us, the fading oily mirage ahead. The engine wasn’t coping in the burning heat. All the warning lights were long on, glaring like tiny, disapproving radiators at Lilas. I should have taken the pickup truck to one of those dirty stations for an oil change.

“You should have taken the pickup truck to one of those dirty stations for an oil change,” Lilas said, pounding her strappy faux-leather boots on the gas. The truck cried out like a dying elephant giving one last trumpet, before nonchalantly bumping to a stop.

“Not my truck,” I said.

“Well, it’s our problem,” Lilas said irritably. She tried restarting and failed. I manually rolled down the window, and hot air immediately pervaded the tight space. My lungs began to implode. Christ, we were roasting in an oven.

“A dozen routes to your sister’s wedding, and you choose a jaunty drive through the desert. Why in hell was that a smart idea?”

Lilas glared. “It’s faster. Less traffic.”

“No traffic, you mean. No one’s headed down this road.” I got out, walked over, and unlocked her door. Despite the mutual frustration, she stepped out and smiled sardonically.

I checked my phone. Fat lot of good- absolutely no service. Lilas dug out a map from the glove compartment. She looked at the map, at the smoking furnace of a sun, and at the map again.

“There’s a busier road that-a-ways,” she finally said, pointing west. “It’s only a two-mile walk.” Her tone raised a cajoling question.


Easy Road

“Just stay in the shade, alright?” I said, looking at her monstrous shoes. The truck couldn’t offer much shade for long. Digging out my guitar from the truck bed, I saluted her and headed west.

The desert swallowed all sound. I couldn’t hear my footsteps. In the off-white nothingness that spread from the horizons to my feet to my heart, I began fading, turning into sand, a thin layer covering mere meters of the desert. I would blow over the dunes in the eternal tides, never to rest or sleep.

<Succumbing, I stopped walking and screamed. No response. Lilas shouldn’t hear me. The sandy solitude grew deafening as I sank down.

I suddenly thought to strum the guitar. No amplifier, no outlets– I wasn’t thinking. I flipped my fingers across the strings, one by one. The guitar shuddered with a tinny plastic response. I strummed again, less tentatively. This time, I conjured chords the color of blood oranges and fiery sunsets and beating, pulsating arteries. An electric jolt shot through my nervous system. I felt my feet, tensed to run across the flat sands, sprinting through stretches of nothingness as fast as I could. I was alive!

The other road of passing cars lay just ahead. I would get help. We could even make it to the wedding on time.

Lilas waited on the other side, and I would reach her soon.