A Long Car Ride

24 Jan 2022  C. chou  8 mins read.

“Are we there yet?” The question lingered on his tongue. Despite the urge to free the words, releasing them from the back of his throat, he bit them back. He’d asked over twenty times in the past hour after all. But if not for the clock, it definitely felt longer than that. His back and bottom were already sore from the length of the car ride. A part of him questioned whether the clock was as accurate as the adults seemed to believe. It seemed to always bully him when he found himself bored.

He peered out of the window impatient. Either the car was driving too slow or the world wasn’t passing fast enough. Both were enough to make him antsy. Itching to climb out of the seat. Anxious to leave the car. If it weren’t for the limited space in the back seat and the seatbelt that held him in place, he would’ve shifted postures long ago.

Long car rides have always been unbearable to him. If it weren’t for the praise that his uncle previously gave to the Ferris Wheel, he would’ve never asked papa to take him. In fact, he was already starting to regret the request. At this rate, he was most definitely going to melt before they arrived. He tried to imagine the image of the Ferris Wheel to take his focus off the mind-numbing boredom.

He could picture it as tall as the sky, disappearing into the clouds above. Somewhere that he couldn’t see anymore. A beautiful circular shape. Hundreds of riders. He couldn’t wait. His uncle told him that it would be even more beautiful in the darkness of the night, when the lights that decorated the ride would shine rainbows into the distance.

He couldn’t wait. He looked back at the clock. Papa said that the Ferris Wheel was a total of four hours away. They left at noon, and looking at the clock, there was still one hour left. He shrunk into his seat in disappointment. Frustration boiled through him. Part of him wanted to shrink into the seat, and slide out from the seatbelt’s constraints.

Freedom from the discomfort felt like a greater priority at this point than the getting to the Ferris Wheel. He wondered why the car couldn’t get there faster. But papa did tell him that driving wasn’t something that could be rushed. He took a breath, trying to force himself to be patient. He didn’t want to come off as a brat, especially after papa finally agreed to take him.

Why did the car have to be so uncomfortable? He forced himself to look outside the windows. He sighed, watching the colorful wall decor pass by him. The varying styles of graffiti on the city walls. Words sprawled in a multitude of colors. Images of men. Images of flowers. Everything that he could name.

He turned away. As enticing as the images were, they were doing nothing to ease the soreness beneath him. He needed a distraction that would not only capture his attention but also take away the distasteful sensation. He turned his attention to his feet, which he swung back and forth as they dangled, despite the limited leg space that the back seat offered. He’d always enjoyed swinging his legs. There was a sort of freedom to the feeling that it brought.

But it wasn’t working today. Despite swinging his legs, the soreness stuck to him, holding him tight in its unwillingness to leave. He sat on his hands, hoping that the distance between himself and the seat would be enough to relieve the feeling, even if the action only brought a brief respite. But, it didn’t even bring that the weight on his hands quickly grew uncomfortable and the soreness persisted without a pause. He squirmed in his seat. How much further was the Ferris Wheel? How much longer did he have to continue sitting?

Suddenly, the car veered to a stop. He unbuckled his seatbelt, breathing a sigh of relief as tension finally escaped his system. But as quickly as the respite came, it ended. Opening the door, he quickly realized that they were not where he had presumed when his father stepped out of the car. No matter which direction he turned, there was not a single wheel in sight, not to mention one that was tall enough to reach the sky. Beyond the wheels for the car, the wasn’t anything similar.

He turned to find papa behind him. Why? Did uncle lie? Or did papa make a mistake? Was this even the right place?

Papa put a hand to his head, rubbing it affectionately. A sense of calm washed over him. Papa wouldn’t reassure him like that if something was wrong. But where was the wheel? He let out a sigh, in disappointment.

“Uncle exaggerated the Ferris Wheel description, didn’t he?” He asked, looking up at papa.

“Perhaps, but we aren’t there yet.” Papa answered.

“Then why did we stop the car here?” He inquired, confused.

“To take a breather.” Papa answered, taking his hand. “A walk at a local park would be perfect for just that, wouldn’t you say?”

“Wouldn’t it be faster if we kept going without any breaks?” He asked out of curiousity. Wouldn’t taking a break just prolong the travel time? How would that make anything better?

“Silly boy.” Papa replied, with a smile. “Every reward has a cost. Life is about dealing with those costs, and reducing its ability to damage the rewards.”

He looked up, truly seeing his surroundings then. The trees that stood so high up above. They were beautiful. The vibrant greens that grew slightly transparent under the sunlight. The tall heights that towered over him. The way sunbeams escaped through hidden gaps in between. In that instant, he forgot about the discomfort and boredom from earlier, and was fully taken by the mesmerizing natural beauty.

Finally turning, he caught a loving gaze in papa’s eye. So papa had noticed his discomfort, and intentionally made this pit stop for him. He returned papa’s smile. And, together, they entered the forest.

Despite their extended stroll, they still managed to arrive at the Ferris Wheel by nightfall. It was a stunning sight. Just as his uncle described. Bright colors reflecting off mists and bouncing off into the darkness. But as lovely as it was, it still couldn’t match the simple majesty of the forest and the beautiful afternoon memories. At least, it couldn’t yet. Not from its appearance alone.

In showing him the forest and creating memories at the place, papa had more than erased anything negative about the trip. He looked up at the Ferris Wheel, eager to form more new memories with papa. One day, one night, hundreds of invaluable rewards. More than enough to cover the soreness that the hours of sitting brought him. He smiled, grateful to have such a wise and loving papa.

This story was inspired by a writing prompt from the “Promptly Written” Publication.

**Answer Me This
**_Can you provide the answer to this question?
_Are we there yet?

C. Chou
C. Chou

A writer that loves cabbages and bamboo, but also enjoys writing and sharing fiction (particularly the fantasy genre). Find me on Medium at: https://chouxherbe.medium.com/