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Rated: E · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2162548
Some people absolutely cannot stand the heat.
The car hurtled across Highway 666, which was as hellish as its name might suggest. Joanne blinked, thinking the heat waves thrumming low against the pavement were a trick of the light. Nope. The air was literally moving and that's how hot it was.

She slumped back in the seat, her red cotton T-shirt already beginning to adhere to the fake leather.

“How could someone ever live somewhere this brown?” she asked, referring to the flat, scrubby land they were driving through to reach… flat scrubby land with houses on it! “I bet there are literally tumbleweeds here. I mean, it's rainy back home, but at least the temperatures are reasonable.”

Ethan, in the front seat to observe Jim’s driving techniques, shook his head. “I think people get used to it pretty quick.”

Lynn, unfazed by the heat, sitting in the backseat with her daughter, smiled. “Yeah,” she said, bobbing her head to DJ Ethan’s Tunes, a family playlist for road trips like this. “There actually are tumbleweeds around here. They're super prickly and they get stuck under people's cars and stuff. One time, me and my friend came out here for spring training, and we brought one back to her roommate and she was, like, super disappointed because she probably thought we'd brought her back something nice. To her credit, though, she kept it in, like, the corner of her dorm for a few months, even though it was all dried out and prickly.”

Ethan and Jim laughed, while Joanne just chuckled weakly and sank further in her seat. Damn photons! Why couldn't someone just extinguish the sun for a few minutes and bring her some peace?

“Jim, mind turning on the AC? I think Joanne isn't doing so hot.”

Ethan glanced back at his flushed, perspiring sister. “Funny choice of words, Mom.”

“Ha ha ha ha ha ha.” Joanne wiped sweat from her forehead, looking unamused.

“The AC isn't good for the battery. Besides, don't you think it would be better for our little Portlandian to toughen up a bit?”

Joanne’s blue eyes nearly rolled back in her head and she began to make demon noises.

“Fine!” conceded Jim. “You can roll down the windows.”

“Dad, AC isn't great for the battery, but rolling down the windows isn't great for gas,” pointed out Ethan.

“I know,” replied Jim. “I can get more gas, but my battery's on the fritz. I'm getting a new one as soon as we get home.”

And, with that, all the windows went one-fourths down, ‘cept the back one. Joanne’s heat was blown away until they got to the house.

She groaned and zombie-stumbled out of the car, until she saw the lawn.

The sprinklers were on.

She ran to them, basking in the soggy chill.
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