Part 1 of 2
This is how I sometimes feel, trapped in this place with no escape.
Stephanie sat quietly listening to her music. The wind whipping around her face was still not enough to mask the deathly heat in this horrendous place. Perhaps if she had just stayed in Nowhere, Middle America and used that money for a new car, she wouldn’t be in this predicament. But then, she wouldn’t be her, would she? She would be stuck in some dead-end factory job spending the rest of her days surviving uptight, cocky supervisors and arrogant, perverted co-workers. She would be her mother. She would be the one thing she loathed. So, her old Jeep left little to be desired in the world of the Middle-class, but Stephanie couldn’t imagine being them. She couldn’t imagine waiting impatiently every single day for a vacation that was always too far and too few between just so she could escape hell in a fiendish attempt to feel alive. She would probably have gotten married, had a couple of kids, worked first shift while her husband worked second or something, leaving her alone with her devices, and her sexual desires, eventually resulted in something that would resemble an affair; and all the while feeling guilty about the affair, enjoying every minute of it, because it was the only thing that made her feel something. Yeah, she would probably love her kids. She would hopefully love her husband. She would hate herself, though. No, on the road was where she needed to be. She had to be away from it all. She grew weary pretty fast, listening to her family tell her to “get a real job”, which translated to “go get a factory job. They pay well. The work sucks, but you get the weekends off… unless you get mandated… but then you get those nice overtime checks when you end up working those 50 or more hours a week.” Stephanie cringed at the thought. Who in their right mind would want to devote 50 hours of their time to some shitty company based out of Japan (probably) who could give two flying fucks whether you were happy, as long as they were making a profit! She looked around her at the desolate Earth around her, and smiled. With as dead and hopeless as this place looked, she felt more alive than she ever did back there. Here, she was free. True, the temperatures were scorching, and as she drove down the road with a car which currently had no running a/c, she didn’t mind. She would put up with moments of blindness as her hair whipped her viciously in the face, and she would deal with having to go through a stick of deodorant a week. Hell, she would even put up with walking around like a wet mop, because she was free.
She looked down into her purse as she continued down the blistering highway… Only $500 of spending money left, not including the money she put back for an apartment once she got to wherever she chose to stop. She had to make it last. She would just have to sleep in the car again that night. She’ll just find a rest stop on the way and take a sponge bath in the sinks. She would wash her hair the best way she could with it as well, and she would rinse a few of her clothes out, too. It wasn’t like she hadn’t done it before since her travels. She threw her cell phone out about two weeks prior; her mother’s neurotic calling had started ruining her escape. A part of her did miss the people she had left behind. She had missed getting up in the morning to the smell of maple syrup and French toast on Sundays, and a fresh pot of coffee every morning. She missed her Mother coming home at exactly 4:00 every afternoon after her shift at the factory, washing up and asking her what she wanted for dinner. She missed her Grandpa most. She would miss their fishing trips and their secret trips to White Castle so he could get some cheeseburgers and red cream soda. And she would miss Garrett. She cared about him. Hell, she had loved him at some point. They dreamed about a different life together. They dreamed about leaving and running away to start a new life away from their oppressive homeland. But then he chose not to go to college, which she didn’t care. He kept working at the grocery store after that. It was when he quit the grocery story to go work at his father’s factory that made her heart ache. She fought so hard for so long to resist assimilation. She didn’t want to become their robots. That was when she had decided to leave. When she turned 21 and her grandfather handed her the money he had been saving for her, she bolted. She bought a cheap car and some new clothes, and left as fast as she could. She hadn’t even second guessed the decision. Even after the arguments and fights with her parents, and the tears that fell from her Grandfather’s eyes, she still had to do it. She had to figure out what it was that she was missing.