Quotes from Essence Churning short-story collection with The Companion Book sketchbook project – Post 17:
Deana and Kenny left their honeymoon cottage after their week of precious solitude. Their friends thought they were crazy to stay in the small cabin in the middle of nowhere. ‘Little House on the Prairie,’ they were teased. But having a time away from their hectic hand-to-mouth life with no obligations and no interruptions was their idea of paradise.
Hope surrounded the couple still aglow with their newly wedded bliss. Their joy set a shield around them, and Despair had withdrawn so they couldn’t imagine his touch ever again. They told stories and laughed along the highway with the wind at their back and a spark in their eyes.
They had planned to stop for lunch in Rockford, but as they rolled into town, they were greeted with empty storefronts… An eerie cloud pushed away their blissful halo as they continued out of town onto the rural highway. They rode for about an hour, falling silent in the tension of mystery. But by the time they took the left at the main highway junction an hour later, they were back in full swing of conversation.
In another thirty minutes, in mid-roar of hilarity at an anecdote from Deana’s childhood, they shared a sudden intake of breath. “Oh my God!” she exclaimed.
Kenny didn’t cry out or say a word, he just honed in on the highway and pushed the pedal on their little Omni as far down as it could go—pressuring it to go even farther than that. A twenty foot wall of flame had emerged reflected in their rear view mirrors, and it was sweeping the prairie toward them, driven by the once friendly wind.
Though it was obvious he was doing all he could, Deana couldn’t help but urge, “Faster! Go Faster! Oh God help us! It’s gaining on us! Hurry!”
The young husband could not comfort her distress. He couldn’t address his own. He could only drive—seventy miles an hour. The top speed he could urge from the economy Dodge. The tiny engine whined the fever-pitch of their panic. Sweat poured down his face in searing rivulets. Kenny measured his race against the unrelenting gain of their foe and drove the car with all his might.
The terrifying chase pushed doom on their heels for two full hours of inner screams. After crying out all she had, Deana’s face was a quiet ember—burning with the scorching heat of the pursuit and fear that all they had would be incinerated by Despair’s fiery clutches.
At long last the miracle came and Hope’s breath changed the direction of the raging wind. The little Omni carried Deana and Kenny further from the pending pit of hell. The beads of sweat that still sprung from Kenny’s forehead brought cooling relief. He pried his right hand from its clench on their escape and set it on Deana’s hand which still clutched the dash, keeping his foot close to the floor in case the wind shifted once more. She leaned back on the seat, where she had ceased to rest in her alarm, and she entwined her fingers in Kenny’s reassuring embrace.
When they arrived in Mendelsen an hour later, they teetered into the small town café worn to a frazzle by adrenaline and hunger, but energized by the sweet hand of Hope and being alive.
When Kenny and Deana were well fed, … They asked for a place for the night. Though they had been made welcome, they were only too glad when they locked out the town, leaving the day behind. They took no time to nestle into bed and to find comfort in the cool embrace of each other’s arms. They felt the energy of life rise in them as they lived to love another day, and their passion overcame them like wildfire.