Big. Empty.

He pulled off into the gravel shoulder of the two-lane highway somewhere in the never-ending flatlands of North Dakota and stared out at the road before him, one that terminated as the vanishing point just beyond the horizon without deviating from the straight line it made dividing the swaying amber fields of wheat. Then he reviewed the the same in the rearview mirror, an infinite-seeming tether back to a lucrative job (golden cuffs, he’d heard it called), house, wife, and something just shy of the average 2.43 kids common to most families in the Upper Midwest. He should go back, he told himself; Valerie would be worried and the kids, well, they’d sense something was wrong once she started worrying about him and follow suit.

He loved them, right?

He did.

But the thought of the forty-hour workweek, the home repairs, a love-life centered around a birthday and an anniversary, and the inevitable soccer practices and music lessons —

He put the car back into drive and on the asphalt and followed the sunset while the radio faded in and out as it played a song by the Stone Temple Pilots somewhere left of the dial.

© Michael Raven

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