My long legs clamber over the hot edge of dad’s yellowed Datsun truck, its high-rise tires making it better than any jungle gym on my school’s playground. I claim the tire hump on the left before my little sister can scam her way there with a lift from our dad. On the left, you can pretend to be driving down the highway, wind whipping your hair away from your face, a cigarette dangling from your fingertips, the ash waiting to burn those behind you.
Dad wants to go holoholo. The empty white food buckets he took from work still smelled like gutted Manini and Menpachi from the last time he went fishing. They’re stacked up against the rear window, his throw net shoved inside the top, the weights along its edge the only thing keeping it in there. His poles are strapped tight over the right tire hump so my sister has to sit next to the stinky buckets and she gives me even stinkier eyes but I don’t care. I’m ready to go.
We race out of our pastel neighborhood of cookie cutter houses towards the highway, passing the school and the other not so pastel neighborhoods. The road turns from scrubby bushes and vine draped trees into rolling lava fields as we head towards the ever-present gleam of the ocean.
I don’t even feel the heat of the morning sun behind my back as I face into the wind, my hair steaming behind me. I keep my eyes wide for as long as I can, daring the wind to burn them clean and new.
The tires pull against the highway as we slow down to turn onto the unpaved road to the shore. The salt blows softly against my face as we stop and dad gets out to turn on the truck’s four-wheel drive. I’m glad he didn’t ask me to do it because I am pretty sure my sister would have stolen my seat.
Dad gets back in and off we go, the rocks and sand grinding and bumping below us. Dad swings left and right, finding the best path among the bad ones. I think about letting go of the sides of the truck like I’ve seen on the rollercoasters on TV, but I remember the one time someone’s dog went flying out of the back of their truck and rolling under their wheel. Its little white body merging with the white sand. We were all shocked to see it was fine but it still scared us.
The ride is over when dad pulls into his favorite spot, a little white beach next to shimmering tide pools, perfect for throwing net. I stand and stretch my legs, staring out at the highways of blue and gray flowing to the horizon.
Melissa Llanes Brownlee (she/her), a native Hawaiian writer, living in Japan, has fiction in The Citron Review, Waxwing, Milk Candy Review, Claw & Blossom, Bending Genres, The Lumiere Review, Micro Podcast, (mac)ro(mic), and elsewhere. She was selected for Best Small Fictions 2021. She tweets @lumchanmfa and talks story at www.melissallanesbrownlee.com.