She reached to her left, towards the car’s radio dial. She was sick of country music and was ready to fight her seatbelt for a change in music. She smiled as her seatbelt didn’t lock on her as she moved to the radio but then sighed in defeat as she realized there were no stations without static or country. She clicked off the radio and sat back in her seat looking out the window. Her mother laughed at her reaction from the driver’s seat, but Madison paid no attention.
It was the mid 90’s, before technology was offered to everyone in the form of cell phones, IPods and tablets. There were no fancy radio options like XM Radio and Wi-Fi didn’t exist yet. This trip was taking place right around the first release of DVD’s, so portable DVD players weren’t invented yet. Not that it would matter because her parents would never allow her to have one.
“You won’t know where you are going if you don’t pay attention to your surroundings.” Madison’s mother would point out during every outing in the car. Then the rest of the drive, no matter how short, would be spent explaining directions.
Though GPS navigation systems have been around for years, it wasn’t available to the public until around the early 2000’s. The only options were knowing where you were going, or using paper copies of maps. Madison’s parents deemed whoever was in the front passenger seat as the, “Map coordinator.” Which was why she normally never called for the front seat by yelling, “Shotgun.” She would usually just jump in the bad seat with her put her headphones on and listen to The Smashing Pumpkins CD on her portable CD player. All the while in her mind willing the CD not to skip.
On this trip, she had no choice but to sit in the front passengers’ seat, since it was only her mother and her going. Madison’s father was working and couldn’t make the trip, which was not surprising he was always working. So, her and her mother were driving to visit Madison’s Grandparents farm in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“Map Coordinator.” Her mom called from the seat next to her.
Madison groaned and looked away from the endless view of tree’s out her window and focused on her mother. Smiling, her mother pointed to the map that Madison had shoved dramatically into the side door after her mother had taken her portable CD player away.
“Can you tell me how much longer we have until the ‘Bridge McDonalds’ in Vinita?” Her mother asked as Madison reached for the map, bumbling with it was it was wrinkled. This was the point they stopped every time they came to Oklahoma. Blinking at all the lines and words on the map didn’t help because Madison was completely lost.
“I have no idea.” She mumbled as she kept turning the map from one side to the other trying to make sense of it.
“Let’s see…” Her mother started, “Vinita is out halfway point to Tulsa from Kansas City.” Pausing for a moment in thought then she continued, “So… if I did my math right it should be 30 minutes. “
“How did you figure that out?” Madison asked sighing knowing it would be a long answer. Which her mother perked up too and began to explain.
“Well, you see if you know what time it was when we left then…” Her mother kept explaining as Madison rested her head against the window feeling the warmth of the sun covering her face. She slowly started falling asleep to the lull of her mother talking.
2 thoughts on “Road Trip for a Teen #Shortstory”
I like this, Holly, it seems like a beginning. If you ever revisit it with an eye to expansion, I have one recommendation: reduce the amount of exposition; rather than explaining why certain devices aren’t present and giving a timeline of technological advances, let other cues in the story explain their absence. Maybe name a specific Smashin Pumpkins title like “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.” Savvy readers will know when it was popular. Maybe while Madison is scanning the frequencies, a staticy voice announces something like, “And here’s the news for Saturday, October 28th, 1995…” (which was 4 days after “Mellon Collie” was released) before she moves on.
You know, like that!
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Thank you for taking the time to read and review my post. I really appreciate the feedback. I agree with everything you said- Focusing on cues more would be a good idea. If i revisit this post I will keep that in mind and also in future postings. Thank you!
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