Lisa and Aly are on the run in a stolen RV when Lisa comes across Wolfe, a young boy with a head wound who’s lost his parents in “Don’t Move” by C.M. Lindley, this week’s New Voices entry. Lindley crafts a compelling travel narrative as the three trek across the desert in search of something new, bound by their trauma. Join them on their journey below.
Benny once told me and Lisa that chem-trails cause cancer. He said pharma companies were hiding the cure to make a profit. He said most doctors don’t even have degrees and make money if you die. Lisa’s dead mother was a nurse. To get revenge, she rubbed Benny’s chicken tenders on the toilet seats and then served them with a close-lipped smile. She did the best she could with what she had. Like me, Lisa needed the money. Which meant she needed Benny. Which meant she needed to keep her mouth shut. He knew that. We all did.
Bursts of California poppies lined the campground’s entrance. Children left charred marshmallows to melt into the damp earth. The RV was old and dwarfed under a colonnade of towering redwoods. Most days, we passed time inside on the two benches that lined the walls, each covered in birds-of-paradise patterned cushions, a circular rusted table between them. When we first arrived, someone lobbed a rock through the window and we covered the wound with a black trash bag. At night, the bag would catch the moon’s reflection and glisten.
Maybe this isn’t the best place to start. But it’s the place I always come back to.
“Get up,” Lisa said. “We’re moving.”
I was half-asleep in the passenger’s seat. I had taken to sleeping there, even though the RV had a mattress in the back. According to Lisa, it was too small for us both. I missed the closeness of those first days on the road, when we slept on that misshapen lump together, the cool edges of an orange sleeping bag shared. Me on top of Lisa, Lisa on top of me, our legs tangled like two necklaces. Lisa was twenty-four. I was eighteen. We’d been traveling for nine weeks.
“Get up,” she said again. She pinched my earlobe. I pulled my shirt over my head to cover my face, exposing my too-big bra, which gaped at the cups whenever I leaned forward. She tugged the shirt back down. “It’s so early,” I said, curling my knees against my chest, bare feet on the seat’s split leather. I could hear the warblers sing above us. I smelled a morning campfire, hot grass. My stomach groaned.
Lisa tapped my foot and said, “Got everything?”
“What would I be missing?”
She searched the greasy console for keys. Her hands moved around some crumpled cash: our last fifty dollars, give or take, a stolen watch we had yet to pawn, a few empty bags of sour gummies. She took one such bag, turned it upside down, and shook. The sugar cascaded over my thighs. “Stop,” I said. “They’re not in there.”
I heard something behind my seat, so I looked. That’s when I saw the boy. He was sitting on one of the benches, his body facing forward, hands neat in his lap, head turned toward me like an owl. Lisa grabbed my wrist and said, “Don’t.”
“Don’t freak out.”