Perpetual Horizon

Perpetual Horizon

A couple is going on a road trip and get lost. Everything that can do wrong did go wrong and this is how they deal with it.


Flash fiction


morgan renninger (United States)

~~The old red 1986 BMW sped along the desert road towards a perpetual horizon. Plumes of dust created a cloud behind the car as the tires kicked dirt at the sky. The heat gave the impression the ground was partially liquid with small waves rolling on the surface. Inside, a large map covered most of the dash and passenger seat. A larger woman with a flower short sleeve shirt, brown curly hair, and large rectangular glasses poured over the map, searching in vain for their location in this sweltering land of isolation. The man in the driver’s seat was no less filled out sped along in silence. He wore an old red t-shirt and patterned golf shorts. His hair was thinning and a pair of vintage sunglasses rested on a hooked nose.
“I think we’re lost. I haven’t seen a road sign in sixty miles of here and I can’t find our last location on the map.”
“We’re not lost.”
“I haven’t seen a town, city, even a tumble weed in hours and I don’t see any markers outside or on the map. We are lost.”
“It’s just taking longer than we thought.”
“We should have been there already.”
“No, you’re just paranoid. Now look at the map and find our last location.”
“We’re lost. We aren’t going to get there at all Harold.”
“We’ll get there when we get there.”
“Did you even hear me? I cain’t find our last location anywhere, we don’t know where we are, we are not getting anywhere!”
“We are going to be fine.”
“Why couldn’t you have just asked for directions. You’re always too proud to ask for help or admit that you’re wrong."
"Don't blame me 'cause you can't read a damn map."
"No, you always do this, always act like you know what you're doing, but you don't"
“Maybe you should stop being so damn negative and nagging and maybe we wouldn't be in these kinds of situations.”
The couple sat in silence for a moment as they realized just how lost they were. Harold had been just driving down the road at 75 miles per hour, but his mind was traveling just as fast in another direction. He didn’t even remember the last time he saw a sign or any formal markings that would indicate a location. Even so, he just kept driving. To where, he had not discovered yet, but he was going. His wife stared down at the map, almost in tears, after having lost all the hope of finding their way that she had been clinging to for nearly two hours. Harold saw her, though he elected to say nothing as he had no words that could console her. The old BMW had half a tank of gas left, and it if they didn’t find a town soon, it was only a matter of time before they sputtered to a stop in the middle of nowhere. This trip was supposed make good memories and bring them closer again. Just like their relationship lately, everything seemed to be falling apart. One setback after another had besieged this trip. A wreck had cause delays. Their belongings were scattered on the highway when the back came open, a bird crapped on the car and covered the whole windshield, a bee flew in the car and they spilled hot coffee on themselves and the seats. He blinked back tears and tried to swallow the disappointment. His wife was silently weeping over the wrinkled map, wishing she had never come. They had already driven another two hours into the barren terrain. The engine started sputtering and the car began slowing down. Eighty miles an hour, seventy, fifty, twenty, zero. The car was stopped in the middle of the road, in the middle of the desert. The sun was slipping away beyond the horizon and nearly all of the light was gone.
“We are lost in the middle of nowhere and now we can't go anywhere.” She burst into tears creating lakes on the map. “I just want to go home. Thing on this trip have just gone from bad to worse.”
“Yes they have. We are lost in the middle of nowhere and it was because I didn’t ask for directions.” She looked up at him, never having expected for him to admit fault. “I am always trying to prove that I can do things on my own and won’t ask for help. I’m stubborn. I seem prideful, but really I’m trying to prove to myself I can do something and I am not useless to you.”
“Harold, you’re not useless to me.”
“Ellen, I am so sorry that all of this has happened. This was supposed to bring us together and be the best time of our lives. Now we’re out here in God knows where with no gas. I’m sorry and I know this apology is long overdue.”
“It’s ok. I’m sorry too. I’m always picking out all that you do wrong and not looking at all the things you do right.”
“At least we'll have some great stories to tell.”
“Ha ha, yeah, like the bee attack.”
“The suitcase explosion on the highway.”
“The major wreck in front of us.”
“The time I realized how lucky I was to have you.” Tears threatened to spill from her eyes and they leaned across the car and pulled each other into an embrace.
“Look at the stars.” Harold pointed out the windshield at the vast sky outside.
“They’re so beautiful.”
“I guess you miss a lot when you don’t look at what’s around you.”
“It looks like someone spilled salt across the sky.”
“Or painted a picture.”
“I forgot how pretty the sky was when there isn’t a bunch of city lights.”
“It makes you feel kinda small doesn’t it?”
“Yeah.” Harold and Ellen sat in silence looking at the stars, reminiscing of all the good times and remembering why they fell in love. After thirty minutes of looking at the speckled desert sky a large tow truck came speeding behind them. It’s headlights flooded the car as the truck slowed to a stop behind the car. A tall, solid built man with a short beard got out and began walking to the driver’s side. Harold rolled down the window.
“What are you all doin’ out here?”
“Our car ran out of gas.”
“Well I have a tank of gasoline in the back of my truck. I’ll fill you up.”
“Thank you very much.” The man walked back to his truck to fetch the gasoline. He filled up the tank, then came back to the window.
“Ok, well you’re all filled up.”
“Thank you so much. We’d be stuck out here forever if you hadn’t come along.”
“Just be glad I did. This road doesn’t get much traffic.”
“Would you know where the nearest town is?”
“Yeah, It’s about thirty minutes up the road. You guys were almost there.”
“Thank you very much.”
“No problem, take care.”
“You too.” He walked back to his truck and sped away. Harold turned on the car and drove towards the perpetual horizon.

Competition: Friendly feedback, Round 1



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