Friday, June 17, 2011

Omens and Signs

Omens followed her as she drove north.
The first thing Adrian noticed was a fireball - a flash of flame against the searingly blue-white California sky, a daytime meteor. It fizzled out like a bottle rocket over Shasta Lake, reflected for a brief moment in the water between the eponymously named mountain and dam.
Adrian blinked, looking around repeatedly until she saw several people on the deck of a houseboat, staring upwards. Proof, maybe, that it had really happened.

In Weed, she stopped for gas. Huge, looming altocumulus clouds had begun to gather, and a cool breeze made her take off her ballcap and shake out her sweaty hair when she stepped out of the Jeep. The second omen came as she was standing at the register, holding out cash for a coke and a cinnamon bun. The building suddenly shook like it had been hit by a boulder, the lights cracked on and off, and the flash from the windows momentarily blinded the clerk, who was facing the outside window. Adrian gasped, and for the second time that day, looked wildly around. The clerk, rubbing her eyes with her hands and leaning her ample belly against the briefly-unstable counter said "Lightning. Does it all the time around here. Hit the lightning rod, thank god we got one! Dang, gimme a second...." Blinking, she finished handing Adrian her change.

The pilgrimage north continued through a sudden, driving rain, and then a tremendous hailstorm. The hailstones were so thunderously loud on the top of the Jeep that Adrian actually pulled over, letting a lone motorcyclist pass her on the highway. It rattled the vehicle like a hurricane, until Adrian finally stuck her fingers in her ears to block out the noise, which stopped as suddenly as it had begun. Adrian sighed, gunned the engine back to life, and pulled back out on the blacktop. She briefly fiddled with the radio, then gave up on it with another sigh. A third omen.

The fourth omen was a plague of locusts - or more accurately, mayflies. Passing through the river bottoms and fields near Klamath, they flew into the Jeep's windshield in clouds so numerous, she had to pull over again at the nearest gas station to clean them off - her wipers were glutted, and she found the motorcyclist there as well, wet and sticky with insect parts. He was wiping off his helmet, his jacket, and his windshield. Adrian waved at him across the parking lot. He grinned at her, shrugging the sticky helmet while rolling his eyes, and waved back.

Evening was falling by the time Adrian got to her destination - a motel in a small town, remarkable only for being equidistant between his point of origin and hers. She was silent when she got out of the Jeep, only speaking when she approached the front desk to get a room key. His car was out front. She knocked, and he answered the door with an open jewelry box, a glint of white and silver inside.

"Will you marry me?"


Sean said...

I like it - very spare, not a lot of overwrought verbiage! Only two comments I would make - "eponymously named mountain" sounds a little awkward to me, like the phrase draws attention to itself. And the last paragraph, with the part about "equidistant between two points, her and him" - I had to re-read it several times to figure out what you were going for since he is actually apparently there in the motel...

Overall, my vote is that you've accomplished the goal of the challenge!

Shawn said...

Still trying to post comment

Dana L. said...

Posting test comment now!

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