What had I gotten myself into?
I closed my eyes. Yes, I was driving, but a moment of distraction seemed safe enough, since I hadn’t seen another car in half an hour. Even the jackrabbits and rattlesnakes were hiding in the shade, leaving the road clear of everything but rocks and ruts.
I was starting an adventure. I had to remind myself of that—an adventure. I wanted to be here. I wanted to get away from the city, the classroom and office, the people. You couldn’t get much farther away than this, a tiny cluster of seven-hundred-year-old ruins in the Four Corners area of the Southwest. I had found the middle of nowhere.
As I had wanted, I reminded myself.
The car bumped into a pothole and my head smacked back on the headrest. Maybe I needed to pay more attention to the road after all. I had almost gotten used to the constant vibration from the rough dirt track, but I still got an occasional surprise from potholes as big as wading pools and ridges the size of speed bumps.
The vast landscape drew my attention, the open space leaving me a bit breathless, a reverse of claustrophobia. At a glance the scene lacked color, a wash of parched tan that spoke of emptiness, drought, death. I clenched the steering wheel and breathed deeply through my nose to filter out the dust pouring through the open window. I’d shut off the air-conditioning hours ago to keep my wreck from overheating.
It wasn’t like I’d have to live in this dusty wasteland forever. I wanted to test myself in unfamiliar terrain, face life head-on, and prove I had healed. Then I could go back to normal life, stronger and ready to face more ordinary challenges. I didn’t have to love it here; I only had to survive.
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