Did You Get Two by John Riley

“106 miles,” she said.

She stared at him. “106. Did you see the sign?”

I was on my knees on the backseat. My head didn’t touch the roof. This was before safety belts. My door lock was pushed down.

She said, “You’ll have less than nothing. I’ll see to that. You’ll be a beggar. 106 miles to the goddamn hotel. I hope it was good. Was it good? Did you ever drive 106 miles to get inside it?”

He clung to the wheel with both hands. “It’s not only my fault,” he said. “You had too many expectations.”

I held on to the hand strap and leaned against my door. The moon had been out but now it was gone. It was hot in the car. I could barely breath. She had made us close the windows so her hair wouldn’t get blown out of place. She got it set just yesterday. I cracked my window an inch. She didn’t notice. I sucked in a mouthful of air.

“Expectations,” she said, and began to cry. My insides filled up with hot water. I needed more wind on my face.

He kept both hands on the wheel.

She cried for a long time, snuffling, trying to hide it from me. Then she said, “Did you get two rooms? Tell me you got two.”

He didn’t answer. I slipped my fingers around the door lock.

.

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10 Comments

Filed under John Riley

10 responses to “Did You Get Two by John Riley

  1. Very intense close-up look at this family. Nicely done.

  2. A treacherous situation, and the drama here was thick as the air in the car. Very good story, well written, lots of tension!

  3. wow! the awkwardness, vitriol, and discomfort all swirl around these characters thickly–i found myself gulping at that cool air, too. Well done!

  4. Thanks, Susan and Chelsea. I’m delighted you like it.

    Best,
    John

  5. Andrew

    You can cut the tension with a knife. Terrific, John.

  6. fabulous. the title & ending work so well! the mother/father tension hangs in the air & the mother’s dialogue so real. & the boy’s reaction so visible & felt. thanks for a haunting moment, lingering.

  7. Yes, this felt familiar and I would say you have cleverly captured a realism that had me reading on the edge of my seat. So haunting! Nicely done.

  8. Thanks Andrew, Chella and Robert. I’m thrilled that it worked for you.

    Best,
    John

  9. Pingback: Week #45 – Broken shells | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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