Working Title. First line has to stay as written, no exceptions. 750 word max.
I knew it was a mistake the moment it was over. As soon as I slammed the door. I tugged on the car door handle, but it was still locked and the keys were still in the ignition, and I was still out here in the middle of nowhere wondering what just happened.
How could I be so naïve? Other people make road trips seem so easy. Just work until you have money, then take off and enjoy the sights along the way. It seemed like a good idea when I started out; all I needed was a decent camera, a suitcase, and a few resumes to pass out along the way. But now, I just feel like an idiot being so woefully under-prepared for this adventure.
When I'd started on this trip of exploration, I hadn't realize how empty the U.S. is, or how far apart the rest stops are. Sharing two bathrooms at my South Dakota farm with a family of seven, and having to use the communal lavatory at my dorm in college taught me I needed some type of enclosure for bathroom breaks. I couldn't wait for a gas station in the middle of nowhere. The outcropping of rocks would serve two purposes, privacy and a picture taking opportunity. Not even the barbed wire along the top of the rough cut wood fence could deter me from taking a bio break behind that small hill.
Once my intended mission was accomplished, I scrambled to the top of the outcropping to look for the right spot to advantageously capture the vista, since I'd grabbed my camera before getting out of the car. On a bluff quite some distance away I thought I saw movement – an animal, a cow, or horse maybe. But when I squinted to dampen the bright sunlight, whatever was there seemingly disappeared, assuming it was there at all.
On my way back down the rocks, I lost my footing and landed hard, sprawled face first on the ground. I rolled over on to my back feeling every sharp shard of rock, then managed to pull myself into a seated position with my knees to my chest. I could taste the salty sweet taste of the trickle of blood from the cut my lower lip as I ran my tongue over my lips. The air here was so hard to breathe, laden with tiny bugs and dust.
Tears welled in my eyes when I saw the rip in the knee of my brand new pair of jeans. My beautiful Nikon camera was now dented and scratched. One week mucking out horse barns now wasted. I pulled the camera’s strap over my head, and managed to stand. It was then that my eye caught the glint of the sharp angular edges of a rock that had agate properties. I picked it up and assessed its weight. It would do.
It was a problem making it back over the fence injured and battered. I managed to get into a seated position on the top rail to catch my breath, and then jump down. When I heard the telltale sound of ripping cloth, I knew I made another mistake. I stared at the culprit nail, felt the ripped denim, and uttered every cuss word I ever knew.
I picked up the rock and flipped it from hand to hand as I walked toward my car. I planted myself at the passenger side door and smashed the rock into the window with as much force as I could muster. The heat from the sun helped in making the window easy to shatter. Looking at the mess I screamed: “Dear God, whatever it was that I did that was so bad, I am sorry!”
I pulled my journal out from under the passenger seat and used it to brush the glass out of the car, then went to the trunk and pulled out a clean pair of jeans from my bag and changed. Then I heard the sound of applause from behind me. I whirled around, my heart practically in my throat, and saw a cowboy atop a horse, watching my ordeal. He was grinning, an easy friendly smile, said, “Howdy, ma'am,” then tipped his hat.
“How long have you been there?”
“Why didn’t you help me, or say something?”
“Didn’t want to.”
“You’re a jerk, you know that?”
After my family stopped laughing, I said “And that’s how Troy and I first met.”