Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: FINISH (05/26/16)
- TITLE: Roadtrip Memories
By Sara Harricharan
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Jessie rolled her eyes. “You’ll get carsick.”
“You’ll ruin your eyes.”
“Shut up—unless you’d rather walk to the library to return that?”
Kelsey shrank back into her seat, reluctantly lowering the novel. The weight was comforting, cradled in her arms, the entire half-hour trip home.
Her mind was worlds away as she dreamed up side-adventures for the resourceful princess and her loyal dragon. It was a wonderful series—there were many good memories there.
Better memories than the ones of family road trips and Dad.
Jessie’s green eyes narrowed faintly. “What’s that look for?”
Kelsey quickly schooled her features into the best innocent look she could muster. “Absolutely nothing. Thanks for taking me to the library. You’re the best!” She bolted from the car, heading for the front stairs.
She streaked by the half-packed minivan, where Mom and her new boyfriend were trying to pack the mismatched luggage into the back. She dodged around her new, potential step-brothers and bolted for the safety of her room.
Sprawled across the bed, she cracked the book open and picked right up where she’d left off. It seemed like mere minutes before her mother’s angry shouts accompanied her angry footsteps.
“Kelsey Jean-stop reading and come get your things together! We’re eating lunch, then we’re going to hit the road. If you forget something, it’s your own fault.”
Kelsey winced. What she wanted to take with her was the one thing she couldn’t—her books.
Sure enough, when she made her way to the old minivan, Mom stopped her at the door, eyebrows raised, hand outstretched.
Kelsey held onto the book until it was pried from her hands and handed off to Jessie, to be returned to the house.
“You’re sitting between the twins, no fighting.” Mom directed. “James, honey—are you sure you have everything?”
Kelsey made her way to the van, she slipped into her designated seat and sat in stony silence, her hands folded on her lap.
She tried to finish the magnificent story in her head, but it was too hard. There were too many possibilities and none of them fit right.
The trip was long.
They reached the hotel at the halfway point and immediately, the girls and boys were parceled out to their respective rooms.
It was well past midnight when Jessie poked her awake, a finger to her lips.
Kelsey blinked in the dim glow of the old flashlight. She stared as Jessie drew out the fat novel from between the pillows and handed over the light.
“Shh. Here—just—read. You looked like—never mind. Just—read your stupid book, okay?”
Kelsey swallowed. She ducked under the covers and accepted both the flashlight and the book.
It took a half-second to find her place until she felt Jessie’s eyes lingering on her.
Jessie snorted. “You looked like when Dad disappeared.”
Kelsey scowled. They didn’t talk about Dad.
“If she won’t let you read, then you should write.” Jessie rolled onto her side, her back to Kelsey, now facing the second bed in the room that held their sleeping mother.
“I don’t know how.”
“Read a book,” came the smart reply. “Dad was always reading too. I just—I can’t—it hurts. You don’t remember it the way I do.”
“He read everywhere. All the time. He never stopped. He finished one book and moved to the next, as if he could read all the books in the world.”
A lump grew in Kelsey’s throat.
“James couldn’t read if his life depended on it.”
Kelsey stifled a snort. “Neither can the twins. They think books are boring.”
“They were—at first.”
“They’re magical,” Kelsey said, fiercely.
“Yeah. They are.” Jessie pulled the covers to her side. “I’m serious though. Write. If you have your own stories, she can’t take that away from you.”
“She—she doesn’t mean to. It just hurts to remember.”
“It hurts worse to try to forget.” Jessie said, quietly. “You’d better read while you can. It’s about four hours until sunrise.”
Kelsey clicked the flashlight off. She closed the book, curling up around it.
“I’ll finish it just now—I—did you ever?” Her fingers clenched, reflexively over the book cover.
“Yeah. It was good.”
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