The sun beat down on our 1988 Plymouth Reliant wagon, and a cloud of sand floated gently out behind us as we sped along route 95. “Single Ladies” blasted over the radio, tuned to KQOL-FM. The hot wind tousled my flowing brown hair as I flung out my arms and shouted “FREEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!”
“Cassie!” yelled Richard. “Sit down in your seat! I can’t see the side mirror!”
With a humph, I pulled my upper body back into the car and folded my arms. “It’s not like there’s anything to see, anyway. No one is out here. That’s why it’s called DEATH VALLEY.”
I looked into the back of the car in time to see Barb wrinkle her nose at me.
“What? It’s true isn’t it?”
Barb rolled her eyes. “You just think you’re so smart, don’t you?”
Peeved, I turned back and fiddled with the radio knob. Instantly my hand stung as Richard’s reached out and slapped mine. “Quit it,” he said, still staring at the road ahead. I drew my arm back and rolled my eyes.
“Seriously, Cassie,” spoke up Barb, “you’ve got to stop messing with the radio. It’s driving us insane.”
“Oh, and do you think I’m just sitting here in a perfectly happy state of mind?” I shot back. “This is torture! You know I have ADHD. I need stuff to happen! This desert is so hot and boring, I’m going to go out of my mind!”
“Oh, just shut it,” snapped Barb. We drove in awkward silence for a couple miles.
Before long, however, I realized that I was getting thirsty. I twisted around to get a drink from the cooler in the back seat. I had to reached across Barb.
“Cassie!” yelled Barb. “Get your hands out of my face!”
“Well your face is in the way!” I retorted.
“My face belongs here!”
“Well your face is ugly!” I was roiling in rage.
Richard laid on the horn, starting both of us. “You two! Shut up! Cassie, sit down in your seat. Ask Barb to hand you a drink if you’re so thirsty.”
I was so mad I decided I didn’t want a drink.
“Richard,” said Barb, “I’m not giving her a drink. She should sit back here.”
“Fine,” Richard agreed. He slowed down and prepared to pull over.
“Hey! Not fair! This is my hour to ride shotgun!”
“Well you blew it.” Richard guided the wagon onto the shoulder.
Barb got out, came over and opened my door. I sat, arms folded, stubbornly refusing to get out.
Richard gave me a push. “Get out, Cassie.”
“No! It’s my turn!”
Barb grabbed my arm and pulled me out of the car. “You stupid cow! Get out of my seat!”
I landed with a thump on my backside on the sand. Barb climbed over me into the car. “Go go go!” she shouted to Richard.
The realization of what had just happened slowly dawned on my hazed mind as the sand cloud drifted behind the rapidly-disappearing car drifted across the desert. I wished that I had just asked Barb for a drink. Gosh, it was so hot out here!
Richard and Barb would be back. They couldn’t leave me out here like this. I wandered over to a lone patch of grass next to the road, sat down, plucked a blade, and waited. Drat, I realized that I had left my phone in the car! No way to know what time it was.
I shifted my position. Pulled the grass apart. Groaned. This was torture! There was nothing to do out here! They would come back, right? Could they really leave me out here to die?! It was so hot!
The road in front of me wavered. Was it really bending and melting in the hot sun? I slumped. I just needed a nap. Water! I needed water!
Exhausted, I lay down. A tiny dinosaur crawled over to me. No, wait, it was just a lizard. I waved my hand weakly, and the lizard ran away. I closed my eyes. Why wouldn’t Richard and Barb come back?
I felt something touch my cheek. Startled, I snapped open my eyes. Oh, no, impossible! Now there were hundreds of dinosaurs! Tiny dinos, all crawling over the hot sand, approaching me. “No!” I called hoarsely through thick lips. “No, go away!” This couldn’t be happening. It was all the others’ fault! They left me here to dry out and be eaten by dinosaurs!
I scrambled shakily to my feet, yelling at the miniature dinosaurs. “Go away! Leave me alone! GO AWAY! Go.. a…” I felt unsteady on feet, I wobbled, and suddenly everything went black.