Independence Day

*This flash fiction was published by NANO Fiction Issue 10.1 in 2016

 

What is it about small towns, I wonder, eyeing the girls in daisy dukes, cautionary tales of meth and boredom. It’s Utah. It’s hot. The tow-truck drops us off at a roadside Motel. A dusty parking lot full of cracked up cars. A forlorn tire swing listless in the weeds. Our home for the night.

It was supposed to be an easy goodbye. He’d drive me to Vegas, and I’d be gone, into the unknown. California, probably, then north. North is the new Wild West; I told dubious acquaintances. He understood. No messy farewells, we agreed. Now we are stuck, I guess. Stuck here, with too much time.

Our room has a stench. The swamp cooler sputters and clicks off. Through the window I see people at the park. I see checkered picnic tables and potato salad. I see women with aprons and men in uniform.  “Looks lame,” I say.

“Let’s go,” he smirks.

Our feet kick up dust as we cross the street; our faces collect an instant sheen of sweat. We want to laugh at these people, to pity them and enunciate all the ways we are not like them. We want to tsk-tsk their backward ways: their homogeny, their apple pies, their flags. We study the brittle aged, the angry teenaged boys, the flies on the melting watermelon. We want to feel superior, but it’s too sad to ridicule.

Back in our room, we take off our clothes. We are sad, too. As sad as the shabby carpet. We move slow, as to not startle the other.  He is long and slender, arrogant and clever. Too beautiful for me: my best friend. Outside I hear bottles clinking. The methed out girls have found the angry young men. Together we all stifle in the deadlock heat.

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