Out of the confines, the open road calls. A winding ribbon of mapless tar or a straight path with a determined destination. It’s a journey, a diversion, a means to the end. Whether enjoying or escaping, the open road has stories at ever mile marker.
And who better to craft such stories than those on the writer’s road? This week, writers packed light and traveled where the prompt took them.
The following is based on the February 27, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes the open road.
PART I (10-minute read)
Wide Open by clfalcone *
The open road stretched like a contrasting asphalt ribbon plying the desolate range. Iridescent hues painted the darkening sunset as stars began their evening dance.
Night soon, then frost, bitter cold.
He slouched next to his luggage, amazed, shocked. The pickup pulled away, tailpipe smoking, stranding him. He was in the Wilderness now, mountainous prairie where harsh winds blew at night, five miles from civilization.
He hadn’t wanted to be let off here but some people get touchy about religion, politics, economics.
Slinging his backpack, laptop bag, he began the trek west, dragging his suitcase towards the sun.
Looking for Love by Norah Colvin
Rainbow Cat clawed through the rubble. One by one she pulled out the survivors — Little Red Riding Hood, Little Miss Muffet, The Gingerbread Man; even Wolf who promised to behave.
“Where are we going?” squealed the Three Little Pigs as they piled onto the bus.
“Where children will love us, like before.”
For many, this was their first time beyond the covers of a book. As the bus roared down the open road, they peered through the windscreen and out the windows, dreaming up new adventures yet untold.
Spontaneously, they burst into a chorus of On the Road Again.
An Australian on the Road in Tenby, Wales by Doug Jacquier
At the Buccaneer Pub, inside the walls of the old town, I’m drinking with ancients like myself, pretending to be interested in rugby, while they pretend to be interested in cricket, but neither of us fakes their distrust of the Royals. Although it must be said that the man in the top hat and overalls, feeding his bar-stool-perched water spaniel some crisps and Guinness, is a little less harsh than his mates. He would allow them to take their own lives come the revolution. ‘Your round, convict lad,’ smiles Top Hat, ‘and mine next if the dog thinks you’re funny.”
The Road To Where? by Hugh Roberts
Thank goodness nobody else was in the room, thought Mike. Putting the gun away, the sound of meowing from the other side of his hotel room door startled him. He hesitated before moving towards it.
Having decided to follow the meowing cat, Sophie was shocked by what she saw as she turned the corner of the hotel corridor. In front of her, an open road with a cat running towards the horizon. Should she follow it?
Two floors above, Doug’s dream continued. Rainbow, the cat, reappeared, only this time somebody was following the feline. “Don’t follow,” he murmured.
Changes by Sascha Darlington
A visit to Vegas, the Grand Canyon; I’d had enough of you. We still had Yellowstone ahead of us. The good thing was that I didn’t have an easy weapon at hand.
At the Day’s Inn, you made me waffles. A good start.
We drove for hundreds of miles listening to Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, David Bowie.
My mood eased.
My first site in Yellowstone was a Golden Eagle. Magnificent.
I laughed, amazed.
At the lodge, you gave me wine, my favorite red blend. The sun set in artist’s colors.
Chill, happy, I heard a wolf howl.
Where it Leads by Bill Engleson
Once a month, usually a Friday or a Saturday, Barrington jumped into his SUV and hit the road.
He allowed himself forty-eight hours for a return trip to wherever the road led.
He maintained this schedule for seventeen years, ever since the year Clarice, his one and only true love, had packed her bags and disappeared.
Friends observed; “You won’t find her, Bar. She’s long gone.”
Barrington would neither confirm nor deny that his monthly pilgrimage was in search of Clarice.
All he would publicly allow is that, “driving comforts my restless spirit”.
Privately, he enjoyed his dark secret.
Road Trip by Sarah Brentyn
“This isn’t going to end well, is it.”
He glanced in the rearview mirror. “That a question, little lady?”
“Not really,” she sighed. They’d just passed the exit to Jimmy’s Ice Cream, where he’d promised to bring her. Why the hell had she hitchhiked? Whatever happened now would be her own damn fault. Idiot. Her dead cell phone may soon have some company.
“Well,” he cleared his throat. “This ain’t no fun.”
She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, well, join the club.”
“You ain’t scared?”
He slid a gun from his waistband. “Now?”
“Cool. Can I see that?”
Hitchhiker by Joanne Fisher
Zoe rode down the open road. These days it was all open road since the cataclysm. She was happy to have a motorbike that worked and enough fuel to get over the other side of the desert.
She was surprised to see a lone figure standing by the road. A woman covered in dust.
“You’re the first person I’ve seen in a while.” Zoe told her.
“Where you heading?”
“Nowhere.” Zoe replied.
“Weird! I’m headed there too!” she smiled. “Can I catch a lift?”
“Sure.” The woman got on and put her arms around Zoe’s waist. They drove off.
The Open Road by Liz Husebye Hartmann
The Chevy accelerates and tops the hill’s summit, before twisting and plunging into the ravine. A duffle bag and body detach, and arc onto the dirt shoulder. They disappear into the dust cloud created by the truck’s struggle with the gravel road.
A crackling of glass and steel, the whoosh of explosion, and there is silence.
Crickets resume, wheat fields undulating like a cat avoiding, yet relishing a caress.
Amy sits up, pulls her duffle over and on to her shoulder. The dust cloud dissipates. The way is now clear.
She rises, slapping her knees. She loves new beginnings.
Manipulative Machinery or Convoluted Computing by JulesPaige
Before GPS it was all maps, numbers and charts. And even with teasing; it was no go for the children to drive. All we could do was stare out the windows. On the long trip south to visit grandparents.
Now we don’t even use the do-dad that had to be uploaded with maps. Since one of us has a smartphone (not me). While most of the time just plugging in the address works. Sometimes one has to be aware of alternate routes.
We laugh heartily at ‘The Voice’ when we make a pit stop. And ‘she’ haughtily says; recalculating.
Sunday Drive (Part 1) by Susan Zutautas
What do you want to do today?
It’s beautiful out, let’s go up to Mount Rainier, we can stop in at The Paradise Inn for lunch.
Okay, sounds good, let’s go!
Along the way the weather started to get bad but on they trudged through the blizzard.
I wasn’t expecting this kind of weather in March, do you think we should head back?
Not really, let’s keep going, it might clear up. I want that lunch you promised me.
Ha, ha, always thinking of your stomach.
When they finally arrived, they walked up to the restaurant. Closed till May.
Sunday Drive (Part 2) by Susan Zutautas
Oh great, I thought they were open all year round. Sorry, we’ll just have to stop somewhere on the drive back.
I’m famished but I guess I’ll have to wait. Let’s go for a little hike while we’re here though. You didn’t happen to bring our snowshoes, did you?
No, I really wasn’t expecting we’d need them today. It is beautiful back in Seattle, and I just assumed it would be the same up here.
Perhaps we should have checked the forecast.
Let’s just drive back, but I’m expecting that lunch.
Okay, okay, we’ll get that lunch.
Sunday Drive (Part 3) by Susan Zutautas
Hey, I know a place that we’ve been wanting to try if you can hold on to your appetite for a bit. That Italian restaurant in Issaquah. What was it called?
Oh, I know the place you mean, Montalcino. That would be nice. I’ll look them up on my phone to make sure that they’re open on Sundays. YEAH! They’re open.
Okay good, now we have a destination.
After stuffing themselves on Italian Cuisine the couple headed back to Seattle.
What started out as a drive up to the mountain turned into a lovely day, like most Sunday drives.
Travel Times by Susan Sleggs
Michael told his buddy, “Tessa’s daughter invited us to visit. It’s a seven hour drive, but Tessa wants to plan on nine, for meal and bathroom stops. I’m not used to making a long road trip with a woman. Is that normal?”
Tony rolled out a belly laugh, “Welcome to the land of traveling with a happy companion. Be glad she isn’t adding stops at quilt shops too. Your days of driving from home to destination without stopping are done. I call it a fair price.”
“Man, I’m having to learn a whole new way of thinking.”
Open Road to Nowhere by by Lisa R. Howeler
They would leave together.
Hand in hand.
Alone, yet together on this journey. She was leaving behind all she’d ever known.
Her mother, sweet and tender.
Her father, hard and stubborn, yet she knew he loved her.
The man with her, Augustus, a Roman by birth, married her in secret in the home of Tehal, who’d been healed of her affliction by the touch of a garment.
Could she trust her future to this man with kind eyes and a caring heart?
She felt that she could, knowing they were both called to the open road.
Evaluating Oblivion by Getaway Brick
“We are traversing on cracked pavement at a suboptimal speed.” Suki was always the pragmatist. I could mention that it was poetic, but that would be futile. “Seriously are you saying they still drive?” Signs flickered by methodically. “Every study of humanity’s culture leads to roads.” Suki shrugged. “Yeah that is why they are about to be extinct.” Probably. Projection charts tell a story of almost assured annihilation. But I had a feeling, Suki would call it a stupid feeling, that somewhere on this road was a story of redemption.
Ancient Roads by Saifun Hassam
Early morning sunlight lit up the high plateau open road. Pierre was on his way to the Diamante Archeological Center.
He loved driving along this high open road. Over the centuries it had been transformed from a stony shepherd’s trail to a vital much traveled road linking the mountain and coastal communities.
Pierre thought of his own journey. He was a marine archeologist. Then travel along the Silk Road had sparked a growing interest in the history of ancient roads and communities. Now he was exploring the Trissente Sea, with its unusual shores, and its enigmatic inland Diamante Mountains.
The Open Road by Waylynn
The open road. Hold that thought, that imagined vista of empty space. Roads have been around since the dawn of life itself. Animals follow the same migratory patterns across the seasons.
Northern European barbarians used wooden walkways while Romans left straight lines. Some highways are named after Roman routes. Others traversed mountaintops.
Today, there is a network of roads and highways that criss-cross the beautiful planet we inhabit, ranging from densely clustered city streets to the isolated back roads.
We pay the for the cost of solitude the open road offers by having to travel further to reach it.
My Favourite Journey by Anita Dawes
The road to Tintagel
My favourite journey
The small towns and villages
we pass along the way
we stop as often as we can
check things out
learn a thing or two
along the way.
the long leafy lanes
where you can only see
blue skies, birds.
when the hedgerows lower
fields of green, yellow
sheep happily grazing
the world laid out
like a patchwork quilt
that goes on forever.
we pass Stonehenge
give a salute to the old stones
as much as I want to reach
I wish it would go on forever please…
Open Road by Donna Matthews
Sharon stares out the window. The garden needs tending, the grass mowing, and the tree trimming. But if she were honest with herself, she’d rather go to the dentist than face the Saturday chores. Sipping her hot coffee, she returns her attention to her current book titled, “The Open Road.” Reading chapter 11, the protagonist, a beautiful young girl in her 20s, is off on another one of her cross country adventures. Sharon can’t help but to feel wonderment for this make-believe gypsy…as if she were real. As if Sharon could somehow almost grasp her hand and join her.
PART II (10-minute read)
Journey or Sole Journey by Deepa
can walk it
My life is a beautiful train journey. I met many passengers, few who I became close, made new friends and relationships with few and fought with few. While this journey has twists and falls, I enjoyed every uphill and downhill moment. As the passengers got down at every station, I was unable to bear to see them getting down. Towards the end, I realize I am the only soul in the open road in search of the soul journey!
Hotter Than a Pepper Sprout by Sherri Matthews
What could be hotter than a pepper sprout? And where was that place anyway…Jackson? I belted it out as a kid, but I’d be nineteen before I knew that kind of heat…hotter than hell, me and Jimmy, tearing up the highway in his Plymouth Dodge. But it isn’t Johnny Cash crooning from the 8-track; it’s Eddie Van Halen. And we’re not going to Jackson…still don’t know where it is. Half-way through the Mojave Desert, drinking beer and flying past the sign to Death Valley, we got the fever and we’re getting married as soon as we thunder into Vegas.
Eyes Forward by Annette Rochelle Aben
Nine years packed into a few boxes and an old steamer trunk. Was there nothing else to show for all the ups and downs of a marriage? In perspective, that which was her past was miniscule compared to the opportunities which comprised her future.
Getting behind the wheel of her car, she felt gratitude for the hard work she and her therapist did to get her to even consider filing for divorce.
She was figuring it out. Turn the key. Fasten the seatbelt and adjust the rearview mirror. Wow, check out the view through the windshield. The open road.
Less Traveled by D. Avery
It was something, the same old something, but no point in arguing now. She’d be lucky if he wasn’t snoring in the car before they got home. No, he’d make it, because he was still complaining about the evening.
“Boring old fools, going on and on about their RV trip. Who cares? Open road adventures my ass. Who needs it?”
Almost there. She noted he’d filled the tank earlier.
“Just going to have a nightcap with the news lady.”
His snores were louder than the click of the door. With one light bag she hit the road.
Viv’s Open Road Hair-Do by Charli Mills
Viv tossed the letter to where her long ginger locks scattered across the kitchen floor. “Goodbye, Hal. Fix your own damned dinner,” she wrote. She left the broken plate he’d flung at her when she served his scrambled eggs too dry. After he went to the copper mine, she bundled her clothes and sheared her curls without benefit of a mirror. Her scalped stung less without the weight of hair he could yank to get her attention. Irish whore no more. She was hitting the open road and taking his 1956 Ford Victoria, the only thing he ever loved.
The Road by Allison Maruska
I pass under the last green light, sighing. Behind me is the city, the place I called home, and the person who made it impossible to stay: you.
I squeeze the wheel and glance in the rear view mirror.
My decision comes without explanation or apology, because you aren’t here to demand that I explain and apologize. I’ve shed the wet fur coat that is you. Funny how the one decision that may warrant an explanation won’t get one.
Ahead, the road stretches far, meeting the horizon. Somewhere along it is my future—one where I can simply live.
Leaving by Lisa A. Listwa
Carla didn’t know what drove her decision. She only knew she needed to go.
She flew through the house, stuffing items into her duffel. From the bedroom, her favorite sweatshirt. His, really. Too bad. From the dining room she grabbed her current reading pile and a half-drunk Diet Coke.
She stamped down the three steps to the front door, paused by the kitchen. Crockpot on. Good.
She locked the front door and flung her bag into the back seat as she jumped into the convertible. She only looked in the rearview mirror once as she hit the open road.
Open Road by FloridaBorne
I grew up in the house my parents still inhabit. I’d look up at the night sky to watch planes flying across the setting sun and wished for the thrill of soaring toward an unknown destination.
Mom would yell, “Janie, dinner!”
I’d grumble, “Pork ‘n beans? Again?”
There’s poor, and then there’s the “eating the same crap every night,” level of poor. That was us.
I entered college and never looked back.
A master’s degree in business, traveling to different places as an auditor, I look down from the plane and long for the comfort of my family home.
Monday Morning by tracey
As I pulled out of the school parking lot I wondered what would happen if I turned left at the light instead of right? If I hopped on the interstate and just kept going north? How far away would I be before anyone realized I was gone? Would my family really miss me? Where would I go? Who would I be if I started my life over? What could I do if I lived my life only for myself? As I approached the light I dithered, right lane…or left lane? I smiled to myself as I made the turn.
Highs and Lows by T. Marie Bertineau
She clutched a tattered bunny, her security in the highs and lows. “But where will we sleep?” she asked. He had woken her in the dusky pink morning, broken her dream of the spelling bee.
“Don’ much matter,” he said, and tousled her hair.
“But what about school?”
“You’ll get what you need.” He raised his chin, his arms outstretched. A northeasterly breeze siphoned a tear from his eye.
“Out there’s what matters. That there’s the real school.”
She traced the direction of his gaze, saw the melon sun lapping the horizon, luring him again, lighting the open road.
Saturday by Pete Fanning
The Blue Ridge mountains sat against the electric blue sky as we barreled down Route 29. Dad rested his left arm on the door—we always laughed about his mismatched tan—talking about some car he’d found in the classified section.
I think he just liked to drive. I did. Saturday mornings were the only time I had him to myself. And now, as the wind flew through our hair, drowning out the radio as we faced the wide-open Saturday that lay before us, I set my own arm out the window, hoping the sun would do the rest.
Rediscovering Freedom by Jo Hawk
In our family cubicle, Grandfather told stories of his time before The Glitch.
Hushed whispers painted an unbelievable alien world. He spoke of blue skies, green grass, tall trees, and wild animals who roamed across continents. He said nature’s wind caressed his skin like a lover’s exhaled breath. When he closed his eyes, my favorite recitations began. His calmness and joy infected us, and his hypnotic voice recounted tales of the open road.
They labeled his accounts as mere rantings from a senile old man, but I believed.
In his name, we escaped and became the Open Road Warriors.
Just. Keep. Walking. by Anne Goodwin
Planed wood. Woven fabric. Sheeted glass. Makes? Not her place. Not her clothes. Not her smell.
So she walks. She walks and she walks. Away from this nowhere. To a? To find.
A white painted line guides her. A white line smack in the middle of the road ahead. It centres her. Keeps her straight. Until.
It swings. The lovely road swings away. Curves. If she follows she’ll topple. Off the edge of the earth.
She walks. Straight. Wall-grazed knees. Bush-scratched arms. Pool-wet feet.
Through his kitchen window, Mike spots her in his fishpond. Calls the care home. Again.
Let’s Go! by Cara Stefano
The open road…It calls to me – let’s go!
There are times, so many times, that all I wish is to feel the wind in my hair.
Play that radio up loud and speed away – never to return!
Reinvent myself somewhere far away and start anew – who will I be tomorrow
When the sun rises on me once again?
Watch the silver ribbon river flashing by; Glimpse the songbirds in the verdant green along my path.
Change the channel and a new song plays.
I want to turn off here – let’s go this way now!
Bearin’s by D. Avery
“Ever feel like hittin’ the road Pal?”
“Heck no, Kid. Look’t thet road in the picture. Hmmff. Looks as if it leads straight ta nowhere.”
“It’s straight like that so ya cain’t go ‘round the bend. I’m worried ‘bout Shorty. ‘Fraid she’s losin’ her bearin’s.”
“Jist her wheel bearin’s Kid. She’s on the road ta her North Star. Shorty’s picked the right path. She’ll find her way through storms a distraction.”
“S’pose so, Pal. Was about this time a year I got cabin fever so bad I took ta the road. Ended up here.”
“Still findin’ yer way, Kid.”
Missed me again, Charli. Was it something I said? 😎
“Frankie, whut’s thet thet ol’ Burt’s achompin’ on? Looks ta be some-un’s writin’.”
“Oh, no! Not again. Burt, you can’t be eatin’ the dang mail!”
“Mebbe it was food fer thought. Look’s ta a been writ by Doug J… thet’s all I kin make out from whut’s left. Frankie, if yer hoss keeps eatin’ the mail, you could git fired.”
“I doubt that Pal, it’s a government job. But I might get promoted. I’d sure miss bein’ out on the road, deliverin’ and visitin’ with everyone on my route.”
“Then you best keep an eye on yer hoss.”
“Pepe LeGume. Back from World Head Quarters, I see.”
“Yes, eet is I. I got wind of a problem here at de Ranch. Dees situation weeth de old horse eating Doug’s stories, eet stinks, no?”
“Ya could say thet again.”
“Okay, eef you weesh. Dees situation weeth de old horse eating Doug’s stories, eet stinks, no?”
“Yes, it stinks, Pepe. Got a solution?”
“Me? Oh, no. Dees ees a problem for de boss. I am just here to help folks air deir greivances. Thees weel pass. As my dear Logatha says, theengs have a way of working out.”
I fear for that horse’s digestion but hilarious.
Frankie, the horses gotta stay outta the story, especially ones with a hankering for eatin’ WP submissions. And Pepe…whew…pass down wind!
I don’t know, Doug, your story wandered off from the submission barn and I had to go on the road and find it. I think it’s settled at the pub now in between some other tales now. Sorry about that!
Well, that’s OK then. My stories always feel better in the pub and improve with each cleansing ale 😉
Cheers to that!
This is a wonderful collection of journeys.
A lot of open road out there!
Folks really pushed on the pedal of delight with these stories. Fantastic reads, people!
Pedal to the metal, or rather pedal to the mettle! Thanks, Liz!
I feel the need for a road trip! I loved this week’s entries.
I’m hankering for one, too!
Great work this week. Loved reading them all.
I enjoyed them all, too, Jo! Thanks!
these were great; Kerouac and Willie would be proud…
Great writing everyone! Really enjoyed the diversity of thought and approach to this prompt. 👍👍💕✍️
What a collection. So much variety. I guess that matches the open road. Well done everyone – a great read.
Reblogged this on Smorgasbord Blog Magazine and commented:
I will leave you with a little bedtime reading… it might encourage dreams of being on the open road…going somewhere, with someone…. The results of last week’s Carrot Ranch Flash fiction…99 words, no more, no less.. Enjoy.
Thank you for another great collection of wonderful art. Michael
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