Sunday, March 28, 2010

Little Apple

a Lulu & Friends story

500 words based on a sentence selected by Dive.

This week’s sentence is from L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz:  "Not a tree nor a house broke the broad sweep of flat country that reached to the edge of the sky in all directions."


Sixteen-year-old Lulu stared out the bus window at the endless sea of agricultural sameness, wave after wave of uniform vegetation bobbing in unison in the early July breeze.  Not a tree nor a house broke the broad sweep of flat country that reached to the edge of the sky in all directions.  She’d passed the morning dozing with her head against the window, sweatshirt unzipped and spread over her like a blanket to ward off the air conditioner’s chill.  She’d wakened a few times, saw wheat or corn or prairie grass, then closed her eyes and dropped back into the light sleep that helped fill the time between stops on the six-week cross-country teen tour.  Kansas was boring.  Better to sleep through it and then stay up partying all night at the next campground.

Lulu needed to get away from home this summer.  Puberty had not been kind to Lulu or her family.  She fought with her mother and ignored her father except when she wanted him to buy something for her.  She had no use for her younger brother.  Most family conversations ended with Lulu screaming, stomping upstairs and slamming her bedroom door so hard that it bounced.  The final decision was made after her mother said that if she and Lulu didn’t get a break from each other by the end of the summer one of them would be dead and the other in jail.

So now Lulu found herself on one of two Blue Bird buses with eighty-five other teenagers and their college-age counselors, traveling round-trip across the US, camping each night and taking in the local sights and the national parks.  They spent last night in the other Manhattan, Manhattan Kansas, listening to school bands, small town politicians and local talent show winners salute the United States’ 200th birthday.  To the spoiled adolescents from New York, Boston and Philly it was amateur hour and they mocked the proceedings.  Even the big fireworks finale left them underwhelmed.

They sorted themselves onto their buses and headed back to camp, where the counselors built a fire and laid out snacks from the supply truck.  Some of the guys slipped away to the other campsites looking for weed or beer.  Lulu and the girls from her bus sat around the fire and gossiped about the couples that had already formed and whispered about the unclaimed boys, who were in short supply.  Nothing much would happen until the guys got back from their forage mission, then someone would break out a guitar or radio and the party would begin.  The counselors turned a blind eye as long as the volume stayed low and the neighboring campers didn’t complain.

This morning they’d all gotten up at 5 to watch the sunrise, have breakfast and break camp.  They’d see the Rockies poking up over the horizon in a few days, but in the meantime Lulu watched the corn and the wheat roll by and wondered when they were going to stop for lunch.


copyright (c) 2010 Lulubelle B


dive said...

Hee hee, Lulu!
This is all too real and it makes me sigh at being over fifty. Hey ho. At least we did get to do those things when we were young.

Sounds like you loved Kansas!

Maria said...

God, that made me remember being 16 all over again. Sometimes I look at teens today and wonder how they can stand to be so myopic, so self involved. All I have to do is remember the time when I was sixteen and I had a really bad hair day and one of the teachers in my school had to leave because her HUSBAND had a stroke. All I could think was, "well, at least her hair looks good."

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

This piece makes me wish I had been able to see more of the world. There is still hope, of course.

I love the mother/daughter relationship here. How often do our kids make us feel this way? Ha!