We interrupt this regularly scheduled program to participate in the Best Damn Creative Writing Blog Flash Fiction Challenge #1 (writing prompt is the image above)
He’d been walking since the early afternoon. The soles of his feet were black from the fresh oil and gravel that mixed with the dust that swept across the road from the dry fields. He was hot, and tired –miles from nowhere- and his hopes were beginning to flag.
Whenever he’d thought about leaving before, he pictured it happening in the cool of the morning. He’d make a quiet, but proud departure, with a little money in his pocket, and a suitcase packed. He would tip his new hat to the folks, step into a modest, used, but clean car, with a thermos of coffee and sandwich on the seat next to him. He’d be setting out for something better, bolstered by the love and support of his family: the right kind of beginning for a young man ready to make his way in the world.
But things never go quite the way you plan. Wasn’t such a good year, financially speaking, though with a little extra work over at the neighbor’s, he put together enough money to buy one of Haskell’s old pickups and still have some cash left over to get started once he got to the city. He’d visited once before and had it all planned out – a simple room, a sales job, maybe some evening classes at the community college to start. Work his way up in marketing or accounting. Meet a girl. Go on a date. Something and someone stable, dependable, reliable.
He was picturing her – her eyes green, maybe? a modest smile, city clothes, but nothing uppity - when the truck overheated and stalled out several miles back. He changed into his old jeans, not wanting to soil his khakis with grease when he opened the hood, but he had just the one pair of shoes. He fiddled a bit, but the damn truck still didn’t start, so off he went. After the first mile of walking, his new loafers had given him one blister, and then another. He finally gave up and took them off. The small stones hurt at first, and the heat got worse before it got better. When he could, he walked along the road’s edge and found some relief in the tall grass.
It was far between towns out here - farther, and straighter, and flatter than you’d think if you were used to cruising along in your pickup, listening to the radio, and thinking about girls. He could still see his dream out in front of him, but today it was a mirage, hovering intangibly over the steaming road as it crested over the ridge before him. It was just ahead of him, and just out of reach.