Road Trip, re-do
In the backseat my grandchildren have disappeared. After two hours in the desert, Mojave then Death Valley, they aren’t looking out the window anymore calling attention to cactus or skinny coyotes on the horizon. It’s quiet in the backseat. At 11 and 14 years of age, a year of zoom and virtual school behind them, screens, texting and learning to attend with the washing machine cycling, pots and pans banging in the sink and Grandpa’s news blaring on the TV, they have learned to ignore what’s around them. But, we are on a car trip, dang it. Oh, well, they aren’t fighting. No line drawn down the middle of the backseat, slapping at one another or grumbling arguments. They are at peace, using their phones. There’s no wifi or cell service. So what can they doing with devices? Hers is an old phone, never had service. She’s in elementary school. We have a phone on our kitchen counter if she wants to call someone. When she goes to school in town, off the mountain, next school year we will get her a real phone. Logistics made simpler. She’ll be 12. Do kids start kissing at 12? On my mind these days, pubescent teens.
Stopping for a photo that looks like a sister in brother’s shadow, after some secret insult.
He’s got his camera, a home built robot car he coded and had perform everywhere we went. Like a Mars Rover it rumbled around the desert. The car takes the place of a stuffed animal. This is the first trip he’s made without one. I had to sift through her pack and remove several stuffies, made her choose just one. The car was packed to the roof. He slept on a sleeping bag on the floor of our room to avoid either his sister while asleep or Grandpa’s contact and my snores. Seems about right for his age, desirous of touch and squeamish at the same time.
Quite a Year
A month back we finished our Covid vaccines, had to get out of the house, do the trip we missed last March when over 60’s were asked to stay home. The road trip coincides with school opening so Liza will miss her first day in 6th grade. A First Day in April! What a year. She’ll go next week a couple of days and everyday the following week until the end of May. Ryan is homeschooling, thriving, taking a break from anxiety and the push of middle school. He came in first in the county science fair and was interviewed by judges at the state science and engineering fair this week. Has time to pursue his interests, go deep. He’ll try the local high school in the fall, where his dad, grandfather, great grandmother and grandfather all went to school. Go, Santa Cruz Cardinals! We’ll see.
We all like animals, call out, “Lizard, whip tail? Its tail is longer than its body.” “Snake.” “Elk, prong horns, wild donkeys!” “Are donkeys and burros the same thing?” “Burros speak Spanish.” I loved the chuckwallas, to say the name a treat. Spiny Lizards reminding me of “Horny Toads” when I was young in San Fernando Valley.
We all like taking pictures. Most of Liza’s selfies and Orion’s, long-studies before each shot. I rarely appear. Glen waits impatiently for the next sighting preferring the pure experience over documenting it.
We feel like a family. I sometimes say “Mom” when referring to myself. Because I am every single day. I didn’t capture this in Jess’ story. Her grandma isn’t her mother. She seems to hold her role precious, that of Grandma, or maybe is too tired of all the shenanigans to add to her workload. In fiction you can make different choices.
Jess, Book Two
I establish Jess and her acquired friends as each holding magical powers. I want them to become a team for Book Three and “save the day.” Taking a writing break to travel has me considering the pacing of the story, the way the magical powers take time to discover and use. I wonder if I am moving along too slowly as the emotional story takes hold. The character develops, changes and also acquires more abilities.
Do I show how confused she is?
Or shall I have her “grab and go” with her new magical abilities?
When I return home I have to get at those gophers that are ruining my orchard, nibbling away at roots passing through the original root baskets. They have been somewhat effective for over 10 years. The trees have grown slowly, leaves are limp and flowers have fallen off. Getting fruit to the kitchen is a battle every season. Now I carry Jess in my heart. Think of her tending to mole’s wound, mourning the losses and destroying Salvador’s traps. As I set another version of gopher trap, a spring loaded snare, she’s here. I know it horrible, killing them, but “have a heart” traps only make them suffer and die in the heat of a black plastic box after they enter. I don’t tend to the far gardens and orchard everyday. So they die suffering. I wish the owls and our local red shouldered hawk would eat more gophers. That takes me out of the picture. Sorry, Jess.
I hope our readers are as attached to Jess as I am. But will they tolerate another family problem as the magic brewing underground goes untapped chapter after chapter? I brought it up often enough that I know what I must do. I’ll pick Book 2’s draft apart and reassemble it, sprinkling in magic from the first paragraph on, let it build.