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Hills rolled by on both sides of the highway, golden and fragile.  Belle watched the spot of light reflecting off the mirror as it burned along the edge of the road like a front mounted laser.  Even that light might be enough to set them off.  Just an image, just a flash of reflected light.

“I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” Devon was either shouting or mouthing the words to fake her out.  It was loud with the top down.

There would be hell to pay if they got caught.

Daddy’s car.  Daddy’s perfect new car.




Devon backed off the accelerator, but she knew it was temporary.

“Thank you,” she said, and touched his arm.  “Where are we?”

“Atascadero, I think.  Let’s turn around and go to the Castle.  I love the Castle.”

“Do we need gas?”

“Who cares?”

“Dev, we’ll care if we get stuck.”

“The car will warn us.”  That was true, anyway.  But then she thought maybe it wasn’t, and they would be stuck by the side of the road in a wilderness of snakes, the only sign of civilization other than the highway itself a billboard in the distance for Famous Pea Soup.  Who can want pea soup in the wilderness?  Why would you?  And he would ask her about last night with Pedro and she would say “Nothing happened, Jeez,”  and he would say, “I know you, I know what you are,” and he would be right, because he did know in general if not in specific, but then he’d walk her out into the gold of the fields, far from the car, far from the road, out where that single huge California Oak was making a shadow like a galaxy over the slope — down hill, and he would put his wiry hands around her neck the way he did once in bed, like they were playing, but only he was playing it was not fun at all and she remembered it, she always remembered it as a pledge of what was to come which he probably meant it to be and his fingers would dig in slow like when he tore the meat off the chicken for soup and he’d tell her about herself as she died and his attention would wander he’d look up at the pure blue that sky is so blue, not a cloud, not a wisp and she’d be gone.

“I’d rather stop and get gas, Baby, please?  I have to pee.”


Leslie Ingham is a founding member of the Portuguese Artists Colony.  She is currently at work on a novel.

Read more stories by Leslie Ingham


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