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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Ohhh…. (02/04/10)

TITLE: Almost Home
By Kathleen Tollifson


“I think we’re almost there.” I stole a quick glance at my sister, and immediately regretted it. With the jolt of every unyielding rut on the dirt road, she pressed her lips into a tighter scowl. It had been a very long day.

“I thought you knew where you were going.” she challenged. Just then we hit another rut. I heard a clang as a hubcap was knocked loose. I stopped the car and jumped out to retrieve it, taking a minute to scan the area to see if I could get my bearings.

The decision to return to our home town had not been easy. We were looking for our new house, which we had rented sight unseen. The familiar southwestern landscape looked almost surreal, with broad vistas of sand meeting a limitless sky. The thorny prickly pear and imposing saguaros, standing at vigilant attention, were not inviting. The intense afternoon heat shimmered off the sand in waves. Before the real estate boom of the 1980’s, dirt roads complete with ruts and potholes, were commonplace. I had not seen a road this rutted since then. I glanced at the paper that I had jotted the address on. Squinting into the bright sun, I thought I saw a house in the distance. I felt a flicker of hope at this encouraging sign. Ducking back into the coolness of the car, we headed for the next stage of our journey.

As the features of the house came into focus, I began to feel uneasy. A stately old plantation home complete with a lush formal garden stood proudly in the middle of the desert. It seemed very out of place. The sprawling magnolias dripping Spanish moss were a stark contrast to the arid countryside we had just traveled. The car rolled to a stop by the wrought iron gate in front. Neither of us seemed to be breathing as we stared in amazement at the colonial scene before us. A gardener appeared from behind the sprawling home carrying a hose. He spotted our car and crossed the broad expanse of lawn to reach us. As he smiled a greeting, my expression betrayed my surprise. He leaned down to greet us through the car window. “Can I help you ma’am?”

I pulled out my strip of paper and looked doubtfully at the address. “1517 Via el Destino?”

His eyes twinkled. “Nope.”

I didn’t have the courage to look at my sister. She was furious with me for not getting directions before we left. “I must have made a wrong turn. I was sure that it was out this way. ” My voice trailed off.

“I know where to find what you’re looking for.” he offered. “It’s not far, but you won’t find it the way you were headed.”

I looked at him hopefully. “Things sure have changed around here. How do we get there?”

“There’s a shortcut right over there.” He pointed and a newly paved driveway appeared just past the gardens. I looked in amazement, afraid to ask how it got there. The asphalt was as smooth as glass with no bumps or blemishes. The black ribbon of road glided effortlessly toward the horizon. I wondered if I was seeing a mirage. When I glanced back, I could almost believe that the house I saw in the distance had been there all along. With another peek in that direction and I realized that the house fronted on the ocean. My rational mind noted that there wasn’t an ocean within 400 miles.

Feeling disoriented, but eager to move on, we thanked the helpful gardener. My sister was very quiet, a welcome change. The car floated smoothly along the road. It seemed only minutes when we pulled in front of the house, an elegant, modernist style structure with sleek steel railings, and amazing windows that stretched from floor to ceiling. Waves crashed on the rock outcroppings in a rhythmic pattern. It was the house of my dreams, with ocean frontage. We gathered some things and headed toward the front door. Before we could reach for the handle, it was pulled open by the gardener dressed in surfing shorts and flip-flops. His face broke into a smile and he extended his hand.

“Welcome to 1517 Destiny Way. We have been expecting you. I know you will enjoy your stay.”

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This article has been read 261 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Mull 02/12/10
Cute story, but I had a little problem with desert, ocean, and Spanish moss. Does this really exist somewhere in the same area?
Jan Ackerson 02/16/10
Very descriptive, to be sure.

There were some elements here that suggested allegory or maybe fantasy? It just didn't entirely pull together for me.

I certainly wanted to know more about the narrator and the sister. You've intrigued me.
Jackie Wilson02/17/10
Very interesting, but seemed to be telling only a small part of a good story. Love to hear the rest!
Sarah Elisabeth 02/18/10
Hey Kathleen, congrats on placing 14th in the Level 1 with this entry! There are so many talented writers here, so great job! If you haven't already, be sure to check out the Highest Rankings on the boards: