Counting on a Vacation

Free verse about a family holiday

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

Author: Misky

‘Misky’ lives in the UK surrounded by flowers, freshly baked bread, and always keeps dog biscuits in her pocket for her blind Springer Spaniel. She never buys clothing without pockets. Her work is widely published.

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