Counting on a Vacation

I’m all twisted and swaddled up in a sleeping bag in the back of our baby blue station wagon. A Comet it is, although its top speed under my dad’s heavy foot has nothing in common with its name … it does leave a long, lingering trail though – dark and thick and smelling of something belonging to the tar family.

Twelve, thirteen, fourteen …

I’m counting streetlights zooming by like flying saucers. I’m not sure which will get me first: the Russians coming or the Martians. I think the Martians are scarier because they’re green. I think Russians are red.

Eighteen, nineteen …

We left home in the middle of the night so Dad can go salmon fishing on a charter boat out of Westport. These vacations are no vacation. Dad has the vacation; he’s the only one who’s worked enough to earn a break, he says. We’re just along for the ride, stuffed like a sausage into a sleeping bag and told to quiet down and go to sleep.

Twenty-nine. Thirty-four, thirty-eigh…. My eyes are feeling… A. Bit. Slee…

I can keep my mouth shut but I sure can’t sleep. No way. Mom and Dad  are murmuring syllables, muffled sounds that can’t get past the backseat, their words are all plugged up in the upholstery, like a stuffed up nose, all of those murmurings piling up like debris in the kink of a drain.

Thirty-eight, thirty-nine …

I’m blinking at every streetlight that flicks by in a streaking hurry to go nowhere. Strange that when you’re flat on your back in a sleeping bag that it feels like you’re going nowhere but the streetlights are rushing by like comets in a fast, frictionous burn.

Fifty, fifty-one, fifty-two.

I’m still counting streetlight flashing by, and now I’m trying to see how long I can hold my breath. The problem is that I can’t count two things at once, so this game has turned out to be pretty stupid. Maybe I’ll wake up my sister. I’ll tell her what frictionous means.

Recollections of a 10-year-old. Written for Poetic Blooming’s Memoir Project: prompt #76/ Part 11 – The Road Trip

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