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|Independence (standard:other, 0 words)|
|Author: AJ||Added: May 31 2001||Views/Reads: 2242/1||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|A young hitchiker learns about life on the road|
“Isn’t independence fun, Measle?” Tessa asked her dog, as they strolled alongside the highway. Measle, a German shepherd, chuffed in agreement. Tessa grinned into the rising sun. Independence certainly did feel good. It felt like the fine desert sand sifting in and out of her sandals as she walked, and the pleasant pressure of her backpack straps on her shoulders. It meant getting out of the stifling house, getting away from her stifling parents, and getting away from the drone of the air conditioner in her ear. Independence was holding out her thumb for the few early-morning commuters to see. What would it be like in California? This was the question that ran through Tessa’s mind as she and Measle hiked next to the road. She had imagined California a million times. It would be sparkling and gold with the sun. And the blue water would splash up against the beach. There would be seashells and movie stars everywhere. Tessa took a deep breath of fresh dry air. Arizona would be a thing of the past, a memory. Tessa was so lost in her fantasy, that she barely noticed the pickup that had pulled up alongside her. “Hey Girlie,” the man said. “Wanna ride?” Tessa looked at him. He looked decent enough. She nodded and jumped in the cab, calling for Measle to follow her. The man stopped her. “The dog rides in back.” Tessa could not ride without Measle next to her. God knew what this man would do to her if Measle weren’t there. “Thanks anyway,” she muttered, as she hopped out of the truck. The man made a face, like he tasted something bitter. “Just a word of advice there, Girlie. Ain’t nobody gonna pick you up with that big dog. You may as well just put down that thumb.” “Humph,” Tessa growled to herself. “Shows how much he knows, right Measle?” They trudged on, her thumb out. She clicked on her portable radio, and sought out a station with some upbeat music. She smiled at Measle, walking onwards. They walked, without one car even slowing down the tiniest bit. As much as Tessa hated to admit it, she thought the man in the pickup might have been right. The sun shone high in the sky. Tessa squinted at her watch through her sunglasses. “I think it’s time for lunch, boy,” she told Measle, dropping her backpack and sitting on it. She pulled out a hot, melted peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a packet of kibble for Measle. She poured some water onto a dish for the shepherd. She chugged some water from her canteen, feeling rugged. After they finished their meal, the travelers started back on their journey again. They trudged on, and Tessa’s legs began to ache. It started in the balls and heels of her feet, then her shins, and knees and thighs grew tired. She began to sweat, and a pool of perspiration collected between her back and the heavy pack. Her thick hair was glued to the sides of her face and neck. She paused to pull it into a ponytail. The sun beat down on her, assaulting her. Tessa’s eyes burned from the reflection of the sun that glinted at her from car hood after car hood. She winced as another car sped by, searing her bloodshot eyes through her inadequately tinted sunglasses. The hot, thin air burned her cracked throat with every breath. Her arm and hand were cramping up from holding out her thumb. The straps of her backpack chafed her shoulders, weighing down on her back. Measle looked tired too. “Let’s rest a while, Measle,” Tessa rasped. The dog, panting, complied and threw himself down on the hot sand. Tessa hugged him, comforted by his being there with her, to protect her and keep her company. She unscrewed her canteen, in which her last few drops of water sloshed. Measle looked at her pleadingly. “Oh, okay,” she sighed, pouring a drop in his dish and then drinking the canteen dry. She gazed ahead at the nothingness of the desert and felt so hopeless. Tessa and Measle struggled to their blistered feet and slowly marched on. Tessa didn’t even bother to hold out her thumb. When a car pulled up next to her, she plodded on blindly. It was a police car. The policeman leaned over the seat and opened the door. “Are you okay?” he said. She looked at him, in a daze. His eyes looked kind. She stumbled into his car and collapsed. The cop handed her a bottle of water, from which she gulped. The officer left the car, and let Measle into the backseat. “Where do you live?” he asked gently. She told him. He nodded, and turned the car around, driving towards her home. It took almost three hours to get back to Tessa’s house. By then the sun had mercifully set. Tessa’s parents were waiting outside the house. Tessa ran blindly to them, and fell into their arms. They helped her into the house, where she immediately fell asleep, comforted by the soothing hum of the air conditioner. Tweet
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