“Carmen, lo juro por Dios, if I hear just one more complaint from you, I will pull this car over!”
Martha Montero shouted, rapidly shifting her glare from her daughter to the road ahead. Locks of greying hair stuck out of her otherwise black ponytail and framed her sweaty face. She had a wide, squished nose as well as flushed, freckled cheeks which her daughter reflected.
“Ma, we’re on the interstate, where could you possibly pull over?” Carmen huffed and leaned back into the plush of the car seat. She set her feet on the dashboard as she scratched the back of her neck. Carmen had shaved her thick, black hair off that morning as a violent protest against moving. She had left only a few inches of bangs plastered to her ears and forehead, much to her mother’s dismay.
Something in Martha’s brain snapped as she suddenly yanked the steering wheel of her 2003 Honda Civic and forced the car off the highway and onto a rather dry patch of grass.
She stared out the windshield not seeing anything but red. Her hands gripped the steering wheel so tightly that, at any sudden stress, she could reasonably snap it in half. Carmen, after recovering from the dangerous swerve, sunk further into her seat, smoothed down what was left of her hair, and bit her lip. She had gone too far. That was clearly evident.
Slowly, Martha sighed and leaned her head against the steering wheel. Her eyebrows were knitted together and her eyes were wet.
“Carmen, for once in your life, could you please just… not be so difficult?” She breathed hoarsely. Her head was still on the steering wheel and her eyes were now closed.
Carmen flicked her thumb in response and muttered a ‘yes, mamá,’ as she stared out the window and onto a rather yellow patch of the dry grass.
As Martha silently backed the car onto the interstate, she sighed again.
To Carmen, this felt like the end of the world. Moving was the worst thing that could possibly happen to her.
Six weeks ago, her mother had announced to her, over Chinese food, that they would be moving to the town of Sweet Haven, Idaho, population 16,389. Carmen had honestly thought of it as a joke or as yet another sign that her dear mother had lost her marbles. And yet, there she was, in an aged, rusted, grey Honda, speeding down the interstate.
Carmen apprehensively opened the shiny ‘Tourist’s Guide to Sweet Haven’ with a scowl. It was one of those ridiculous pamphlets that promoted the ‘heartwarming architecture’ and ‘golden wheat fields that wander past the horizon’ of some redneck town in the middle of nowhere. To say the least, Carmen was not pleased.
Hours ago, her mother had attempted to justify the move, citing that it was a ‘new adventure’ and ‘a chance to make new friends’. In Carmen’s eyes, it was just another chance for Martha Montero to ruin her daughter’s life. Carmen couldn't even begin to list the reasons why this was horrible and yet, every two seconds, she muttered still another reason.
“All my friends at home…” Carmen whispered longingly, watching the cars to the right pass their own.
“You’ll make new ones,” her mother replied tensely.
Carmen made a move for the car’s radio which was playing some silly Dolly Parton song. In an instant, her hand was slapped away by Martha who never even took her eyes off the road.
“Mi radio,” she mumbled with finality.
Carmen muttered something under breathe while Martha turned onto some ridiculously named exit and onto some ridiculously named two lane highway.
Bit by bit, as they went from empty road to completely empty road, the cement and chunks of dried grass melted away into long, bright fields of grain and tall, green stalks of corn.
“The food will suck.”
“Then you can finally learn how to cook.”
Carmen rolled her eyes and groaned. Martha sighed and gripped the steering wheel.
On the right, a bright yellow and blue sign wishing them a ‘Hearty Welcome to Sweet Harvest’ as well as the slogan, ‘It’s Harvest time!’.
Carmen stuck a finger down her throat and retched.
“Keep doing that and you’ll get an eating disorder,” Mather said coolly.
“Well, I’m not the one who needs it,” breathed.
On the horizon, another vehicle appeared, a white pick-up truck, which freely drove over the dark puddles of nothingness splayed out on the road.
Read more of Frog's Hollow here !!