Jonathan Carr

The Desert

She peeked over the hood of the pick-up - a grin the size of the Mohave - so happy to be out of Utah. She was a tulip in the desert, summer dress back-dropped by the long unearthly line of windmills - sprouted like white plastic clovers spun lazily by the breeze - like the propulsion system of a mammoth fairy ship buried just beneath the ground.

"Let's just stay here forever," she said.

"In the middle of the desert?"

"Why not? Look, the windmills are doing alright. We can build a house in the windmills."

"Yeah, that'll go over well."

She tapped a beat on the hot metal, eyeing him playfully.

"Look at that sky."

The sun was an angry thumb over the sand. Highway 10, an empty perpendicular for the horizon. The heat made snakes of the air.





"Fucking Sweltering."

She purred her way over to him and wrapped her arms around his waist. His mouth betrayed a grin despite the twitching of his cheek muscles. She turned with her back to him, holding his hands wrapped around her at the waist.

"They look so alien," she said, eyeing the uber-modern windmills wistfully. "Who do you think put them here?"

They pondered in silence.

"Aging hippie politicians," he said.

He could feel her ribs jiggling as she giggled.

"Utah was a nightmare." She groaned finally.

He bent his head down smelling her hair.

"It's over now," he said.

"It's family," she said. "Family is never over."

He rolled his eyes to himself.

"It can be if you want it to."

"Please don't start that again. You promised."

"You're right. I'm sorry."

He kissed the top of her head. Once. Twice.

"We could build a home here," he said, "if you want to."


"Sure. I could chop down a few of these windmills, we could make a cabin out of them."

"That would be dreamy, just like the wild west."

"That's right," he said, "living off the land."

They made a strange swishing sound, the giant polymer sails of the things, mournful almost.

"Getting by with what nature provides us," she said.

He could feel her tight against him as she began gently shaking - a quivering collapse that started in her stomach.

"I mean where are we really going anyway after all?"

"We're going home," he said.

"You know that's not what I mean."

He pulled his arms from around her and turned taking a few steps. He put his hand across his forehead staring out at nothing.

"Do we have to do this?" he said. "Do we always have to come here?"

"Where? The desert?"

When he first tried to answer his throat went gritty with a sudden gust of sand. Once he cleared his throat he said nothing. He let his eyes glaze over, blurring away the line between the ground and the sky.

"I swear," he said finally, "every time we get close to Salt Lake City again I start imagining there is going to be a sign at the city limits that says 'Keep Smiling or We'll Blow Your Fucking Head Off.'"

That got a small laugh out of her, which was good. He felt good when he heard her laugh.

"Aaagh!" she cried, "Aaaagh! That's what's so great about the desert. I can finally explode."

He turned around and saw that she was twirling, her arms splayed out, her face turned up towards the sky. He watched her spin and spin, wondering at the ferocity of her momentum.

"And then the little bits of you get carried off by the windmills," he said.

She stopped spinning and slowly tilted her face down to look at him, a giant grin unfurling itself across her face like a flag.

"And then," she said, "the little bits of me get carried off by the windmills."

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