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Country of Origin
This is part of my ongoing project of flash fiction typed onto vintage photographs using an antique typewriter. If you’d like to see more keep looking here or visit my Etsy.
As Ethyl turned the VW bug down the dirt road, Bertha shuddered a little.
“What is it, Berth? Something the matter?”
“I’m used to cities is all. This road trip has been adventure enough without you taking this shortcut through the woods. This road is dirt, for the love of Pete!”
Ethyl smiled at her city friend. They’d instantly connected at the school where both were studying to be receptionists. Ethyl had left the family farm in search of bigger and better things, and Bertha was just killing time until her fiancé, Jasper, got back from the war.
“I grew up on roads like this. Relax, hun.”
The VW blew up a cloud of dust as Ethyl drove it a bit manically around a turn, the wheels scrambling through some pebbles and shooting them into the woods.
“Well could you slow down a bit, at least? At least consider the paint! This car is new!”
Jasper bought the car a few months before he found himself shipped out and trusted his future wife with his most prized possession.
“It’s Jasper’s most prized possession!”
“Where do you come in on that list?” Ethyl asked with a smile and a bit of attitude.
“Just under the car, darling. You should know that. Men and their toys…”
Ethyl relented and let go of the gas a little, taking the turns a bit easier.
“Thank you, dear,” Bertha said as she reached into the back seat. “Care for some coffee?”
“Actually, I’m famished! How’s about I find a place to pull over?”
“Here in the middle of nowhere?”
“Here’s as good as anywhere else!”
They drove the little powder-blue bug another mile or so until she came up to a bend in the road just before an old bridge. A picturesque clearing filled with wildflowers lined the grassy spot where Ethyl stopped the car.
“Oh look Bertha! What a place for a picnic. What do you say?”
Bertha smiled and grabbed the wicker picnic basket from the backseat. “Good thing I packed these sandwiches! God knows how long we’ll be lost out here!”
“I’m telling you,” Ethyl said with another smile, “The man at the station said this here was a shortcut. Said it would cut a good hour of driving. You want to be at your cousin’s by evening, don’t you? Or shall we camp out for the night –“
“Lord no! I’m not sleeping in a tent. We’re making it tonight if it kills us.” Ethyl let a knowing smile grow on her face. She knew just how to manipulate her city friend. The woman was clearly afraid of nature.
Bertha got out of the car, removed her cardigan and fixed her flower-print dress. After checking both shoulder straps, making sure they were just right, she threw her cardigan onto the car and pulled a blanket out of the back seat.
Ethyl loved watching this girl, an enigma to someone who grew up on a farm, as she carefully placed the blanket on the grass. “You know, there’s a perfectly good log over there.”
“You must be joking. This is an expensive dress! It’s Chanel!”
“Chanel! As in Coco?”
Ethyl raised an eyebrow. “Okay…”
“Oh you country bumpkin…what do you know!” Bertha smiled, and Ethyl laughed quite loudly, letting it echo through the trees. She was relieved to see her friend loosen up a bit.
“Well, this fabulous ensemble I’m wearing is official Wanamaker’s. The top was on sale!”
Bertha giggled as she sat down on the blanket with the basket. Meanwhile, Ethyl took out her satchel and started rooting through it for a pen and paper.
“Oh no, is the master author at it again?” Bertha teased.
Ethyl stuck out her tongue and sat on the log. Her scribbling on the pad of lined paper reverberated through the woods, disrupted only by the occasional sound of wrapper rustling as Bertha set up their lunch.
Once she had the sandwiches out and spoons in the small container of potato salad, she waited patiently for her friend to finish. She put her hands behind her head and leaned back against the car, looking up at the perfectly blue sky. Ethyl finally finished and joined her on the blanket.
“Say what you want about the city, and I will, as you know, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen the sky such a beautiful blue,” Bertha said. Ethyl dug into the potato salad and nodded. As she tried to speak a small piece of potato fell to the blanket.
“That was what I was writing about.”
“Mhmm,” she said as another piece fell to the blanket. She picked it up, inspected it and popped it into her mouth.
“Such class. It’s a wonder you were raised on a farm! I would think you came from the most fabulous finishing school in Paris!” Bertha raised an eyebrow at her friend, waiting for a response.
“Just wait until I go pee in those woods right there, then we’ll see who is refined,” she said, watching Bertha shudder a little.
“You will not!”
“I will so!”
“Don’t do it, Ethyl. There must be a ladies room around here somewhere!”
Ethyl smiled again at her friend.
“So what was your poem about?”
“Actually, it was about returning to a perfectly blue sky after spending a few months in the smoggy city.”
“That’s…kind of lovely, Eth. It really is beautiful here, I must admit. I can hear the birds and a breeze, rather than cars and yelling. And what is that sound? The one that is fairly constant?”
“Ah. Crickets. They’re kind of loud.”
“Funny, I didn’t even notice them until you pointed it out.”
“Well, it really is quite lovely.”
They continued to eat when a bug landed on Bertha. She screamed and dropped her sandwich onto her plate as she rushed to get it off her arm, flailing like an insane person. Ethyl just remained calm and continued eating. Bertha finally got rid of the bug and stood.
“I’m eating the rest in the car.”
The Boating Trip is part of my ongoing series of flash fiction stories typed onto vintage photographs using my antique typewriter. If you like it, enter the contest to win a personalized piece here. And check out my Etsy for original prints and the book collecting around fifty of my images.
Sunday Walks is part of the upcoming book Capturing a Moment, a collection of my flash fiction stories typed onto vintage black and white photographs, published by Wrags, Ink.
The dilapidated railroad station, aged after years of disuse, loomed above them like a ghost as they trudged up the hill.
“I always come up here when I want to be alone. You’re the first person I’ve brought here.”
She smiled, a little out of breath from the steep path.
The rusted rails disappeared into surrounding woods as she looked left, then right.
“The tracks are unused now, right?”
“Are you nervous?” he said with a smile. “They’re retired. Look at them.” He kicked a bit of rusted metal off the top. “I doubt they’d be safe run a train over them.”
She took his hand. “Thanks for bringing me here. I know this place means a lot to you. Do you ever go inside?”
“There’s a broken window around back, but it’s pretty dirty in there.”
A sound, far off in the distance, made her look to the right. “What was that?”
“I don’t know, but I hear it all the time.”
“It sounded like-“
“No, never mind.”
He bent down and put his hand on the track. “Feel it.”
She did as she was told and felt the slight vibration. “What is that?”
“You were going to say it sounded like a train was coming, right?”
She nodded, a little unwillingly.
“I hear it all the time. And after I hear it, I can always feel the tracks vibrating the tiniest bit.”
She quickly removed her hand from the rusted metal. She wiped the brown dust off her hands onto her jeans as he stood back up. She stood as well and watched the tracks coming from the woods to the right, waiting.
“It won’t come,” he said, breaking the silence.
She took his hand, and squeezed it tight from fear when they heard the sound again, this time closer. It sounded like the echoes of the horn of a train, but not the actual sound itself. She continued to watch, waiting.
Photograph taken by Nessa Skotnitsky of Ethereal Fine Art and Photography.
New typography with my brand new (vintage) typewriter! Here’s a few shots of the typewriter, too! Check out my last post for news about my upcoming book, Capturing a Moment, collecting fifty of my works together in one volume! Some are also available on my Etsy for a limited time!