This story I began about five years ago and finally whipped it into shape a few weeks ago.
It’s inspired by the short time my sister and I lived with my grandmother in Dunn Center, North Dakota and the trouble we got into and the sights we saw.
The gas station sits atop a broken hill of trees and crumpled earth. Made from giant river rocks and cement, it’s a simple creation. Out front, a pathetic ‘for sale’ sign swings from its metal post. It’s been there for years too long to count. But they still visit. Always have, every summer.The girls have never been inside; instead watching from a respectful distance. A foot hits a crumpled Coke can, sending it soaring, red and white blurring in a dizzying mess. The Youngest shushes her sister, the crumpled metal loud in the still afternoon.
The Oldest laughs and then stops. Something’s different. This time she hears. Really hears.
She can hear the old music, Patsy Cline maybe, Conway Twitty, drifitng from an old radio. Hear the men in their tattered coveralls with grease-stained hands, barking orders about transmissions and tune-ups.
And it is not enough for her to hear. She wants to see too.
The rusty doorknob is grasped and the door creaks open. Oldest and Youngest blink away falling dust and debris. They sniff at metallic air. Crooked nails hold the remnants of their grandfather’s tattered calendars, the years passed and forgotten. Newspapers wet with mildew cover the ground, ancient stories filling the headlines. It’s all they have to remember a man they have never met.
The little shop groans as the first signs of life in 50 years pass through the doorway.