This Is Vacation Now

Published: June 2017

On the third consecutive right turn, he began to grow suspicious. The yellow Subaru he was following indicated right a fourth time. He heaved a sigh and mechanically flipped the signal. The noise and light ticked double time reminding him that it had been six months since the bulb had gone out.

In the passenger seat, his wife was looking down at her phone. Absorbed in posting a selection of the five hundred photos she had taken since that morning. From the back of the minivan came the voices of children asking child questions and demanding things.

This was vacation now. Going to child movies and standing the entire time because one of them insists on sprinting up and down the aisle. Draining your phone battery on Baby Einsteins so you can sit through a meal. Stuffing Mexican food down your throat while trying to keep your four-year-old from tripping the waiter with his random dance demonstrations.

And driving in circles to find a playground which is different from a park because it has plastic and metal structures that are only fun to humans of a certain size and where other humans of a larger size have to be constantly vigilant so smaller humans won’t climb where they should not and fall and die.

After saying, “I don’t know, we’re following Grandpa” for the tenth time they finally pulled into the park with the plastic and metal structures.

As children spilled out of the vehicle, direct sunlight from a cloudless sky was already heating his neck to an intolerable degree. He brushed cracker crumbs from his arm and followed the rapidly disappearing kids.

Of course, there was a sandbox. Of course, when he walked by one of the children threw a fistful of sand and filled his socks with fine grains of annoyance.

The plastic slides were charged with enough static to power a toaster. Everyone wanted to ride but they were too afraid to go down on their own.

On the swings, he could grab their feet and growl at them until they giggled while the wind whipped their golden hair into a tousled mess.

By the time the ice cream came out of the cooler, it was already starting to melt. He took off their shirts and it dripped in great gobs on to their childlike bodies. They laughed as they licked it off each other’s arms. Tiny humans so content with ice cream, sun and sky, plastic and metal.

This was vacation now, he thought, as a soft, sticky hand curled around his index finger, pulling him to his knees and into a tunnel of metal and plastic.

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Rob Skidmore writes science fiction stories about being human.

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