by Sara Dovre Wudali

“Can anyone see the cheese popcorn? Pass it to me, please.” Piles of pillows and discarded half-eaten bags of chips, and Orangina bottles and ginger candies for car sickness—we are surrounded by the debris of our trip around the Great Lakes. I rarely eat junk food with two feet on the ground, but somehow lifting them into the van and onto the road grants not just permission, but the right to sin. We tick the miles and then kilometers away, feeding the car gallons and liters of gas. We burn away our silos of solitude with the fossil fuel. Ten days trapped in a car together has lowered the teenage walls and so when they fight, it is with more raw anger than disinterested cynicism. We share music and pictures we see in the clouds. Our hearts are in all our throats as we brake for a bear and her cubs crossing the Trans-Canada Highway. She takes a great risk with her precious babies and we exclaim in unison at the audacity of her decision. Worrying together entertains us for miles. We pass an Amish family in town for the day, selling vegetables from their buggy and I get to teach my children about other cultures right here in the heart of our own. A few blocks away, they gasp when they spot the Amish teen—straw hat on his head marking him-leaving a convenience store with a bottle of blue Gatorade. “He’s wearing Crocs!” My daughter yells, pointing from his feet to the Crocs on her own, mouth open in astonishment. “Is he allowed to do that?!” my son asks in disbelief. Their newfound knowledge of the Amish makes them experts, but not knowing the answer, I shrug my shoulders and think about how teens bend and break the rules everywhere.

Sara Dovre Wudali is a writer and editor of higher education materials from St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. She has judged several literary contests including the Minnesota Book Awards and the Midwest Book Awards. “Road Trip” is her first published piece of creative writing.