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The Road Home driving to the countryside
Vast green plains and tall grasses are spread out in front of my vision

The sky outside is a blood-red color. Slowly, I close my eyes and let a mercifully cool breeze blow on my face through the open car window. I open my eyes and stare out at the landscape spread out around me. Vast green plains and tall grasses are spread out in front of my vision. The scarlet sky is streaked with pink, orange, and purple. The light of the fast-setting sun reflects off my stormy gray eyes. The shine makes my brown hair look red. “What a beautiful place,” I breathe. Then I remember with a jolt. If my family and I hadn’t got evicted, I wouldn’t be here, right now, in this un-Montana-like place.

I sigh quietly, and then unintentionally go over yesterday’s events in my mind. The giant, horrible eviction notice, which seemed to cast shadows over the lawn. The landlord with the nasal voice. My sobbing mother. Why did this have to happen to us? Every day my parents tried to make ends meet, but they failed to do so. We had lost our house and were now on an unfamiliar road, in an unfamiliar place, driving west in the oldest pickup truck in history.

My parents had informed me and my three-year-old sister, Lizzie, that we were going to live at our grandparents’ house in eastern Washington for a while until they could find jobs here. Originally they had both been working at an office in Montana, but the company just didn’t work out. After thinking about all this, I smile sadly. My parents always told me I was a thinker, not a speaker. I strongly agree with them.

Suddenly, the car starts spluttering up a storm and then starts jolting back and forth, back and forth. I knew we should have stopped for gas when we passed that gas station about an hour ago.

Lizzie wakes up from a nap from her purple car seat and starts wailing. This long car drive has been really hard on her. Honestly, we’ve been driving for at least nine hours! Poor Lizzie, I thought. Lizzie’s face is screwed up and tears are streaming down her cheeks. Her sandy-colored hair is coming out of her pigtails. Lizzie had remained quiet for this entire trip, but this was the last straw.

My mom reaches around from her seat in front of me, takes Lizzie’s tiny hand in her own, and speaks softly. “Don’t worry, Lizzie; it’s only one more mile.”

“One more mile,” my dad says out loud, patting the dashboard. “Hang in there, Blue.” Blue is the name I gave our red vehicle when I was two and had just started talking. Mom and Dad thought the name was so cute they started calling our truck the same thing.

“Allie?” Dad questions me. “Are you still there?”

“Oh, yeah,” I reply with a yawn. “What time is it?”

“About nine o’clock,” Mom says. The car shudders again, and I clench the sides of my seat with tight fists, urging the car on with my mind. “Come on,” I think with every ounce of my brain. “Please.”

Dad steers the truck down a gravel road and says as the car shudders once again, “We’re here!”

“Woo-hoo,” I say in a semi-excited voice as Dad pulls down a long driveway in front of a modest-sized house. As if on cue, our old car chokes on the last bit of gas, and then dies.

“Whew,” Mom exhales a sigh. “That was a close one. Come on, Lizzie, let’s go say hello to Grandma Joy and Grandpa Rob. Mom gets out of the car and then picks up Lizzie from her car seat and starts walking towards the house. By now Lizzie has calmed down and looks around with green curious eyes. Dad gets out of the truck and opens the car door for me.

“Come on, honey,” he says softly. I hop out of the car onto the driveway.

Ah, solid ground again, I think to myself.

The sky is now much darker, and stars are beginning to peep out from behind their dark veil. Lights are shining from inside the house, their light dances on the front lawn through the window. The smell of white-chocolate-chip-and-macadamia-nut cookies is beginning to waft through the open door. I turn to face my solemn-faced father. He stares up at the house with a glazed expression.

“So this is going to be where we live?” I ask him.

“For a little while,” he replies. He gives me a hug and whispers, “Welcome home.”

The Road Home Hannah Ogden
Hannah Ogden, 13
Sammamish, Washington

The Road Home Victoria D’Ascenzo
Victoria D’Ascenzo, 12
Lincoln University, Pennsylvania