I Stare at the Road Stretching Straight to the Roll of Hills

By Bennett Durkan

I stare at the road stretching straight to the roll of hills, and a few beacons escape the cloud cover, and the windshield wipers slash like a metronome on their lowest setting, and my wife sits in the passenger seat with a Ludlum’s, not a Ludlum, book, and the raindrops race across her window, and she reads her book, and Jimmy watches the drops across his window, and he traces their progress with a finger, and he smiles when one crosses the finish line, and, in the rearview mirror, I see Billy, and he contorts the Rubik’s Cube into different color patterns, and he bites the corner of his lip as he aligns a row of green squares, and the tires rumble on the road, and I hear it with my teeth, and the sun breaks through the clouds, and I stop the windshield wipers, and my wife looks up for a second, and she wiggles lower in the seat, and her knees rest on the glove compartment’s hatch, and the residual raindrops dry, and Jimmy, sitting on his hands, sighs, and Billy rotates the cube, and my wife pulls her shoulder strap, and the sun lights the road, and the dry smell sneaks through the AC vents, and I flip the visor, and I reposition my hands on the steering wheel, and Jimmy farts, and he blames Billy, and Billy turns one side of the cube in circles, and Jimmy says he’s bored, and Billy says it’s his own fault, and my wife says he should have brought something to do, it’s a long drive to Grandma’s house, he knows that, and she looks to me, and I keep my eyes on the road as I shrug, and I stare at the road stretching straight to the roll of hills, and we travel to the next exit in silence, and Billy completes the green side, and I see the colors jumbled on the cube’s other faces, and Billy shakes his head, and Jimmy says he’s bored, and my wife tells me to do something about my son, and I say it’s your mother, and my wife closes her book, and she crosses her arms, and Jimmy stretches to my wife’s seat, and he says we’ll never get there, and Billy undoes the green side of the cube, and the speedometer’s needle dips by three, and I apply pressure to the pedal, and my wife twists toward the window, and I stare at the road stretching straight to the roll of hills, and Billy turns the cube without moving the pieces, and Jimmy says he’s bored, and my wife asks me why I said it like that, and she asks me why I always say it like that, and I say let’s not fight in front of the children, and I say let’s try to enjoy a family drive on the way to see family, and Jimmy presses his forehead against his window, and his breath fogs the glass, and he draws smiling stick figures with his fingernail, and Billy holds the Rubik’s Cube in his lap, and he closes his eyes, and his shoulders fall, and my wife exhales as she opens her book, and I ask her how’s the book, and she turns a page, and I stare at the road stretching straight to the roll of hills.


Bennett Durkan is a graduate of Stephen F. Austin. His fiction has appeared in Gravel, Agave, and Birds Piled Loosely. His poetry has appeared in Ikleftiko, Five 2 One, and The Red River Review.