Wanted (Amanda Lance) - By Amanda Lance Page 0,1

feet slide down back into my shoes, my legs already missing the stretch the tall console provided.

All around us, the meandering trees and woods seemed to suffocate us, and yet ahead was a clear, outstretched highway that promised freedom if you only stayed the course. I rolled down the window and felt my fingers dance against the wind. Briefly, I considered what it would be like to feel my whole body out there.

“How much longer until we get to the exit?” I asked.

Dad sighed. “Maybe an hour. That accident back there took us off route by forty-two miles. Just be patient, Addie.”

I smiled and flipped my sunglasses back on. Looking at the night through the dark lens was strange but not entirely unpleasant. If nothing else, they blocked out some of the brighter headlights coming from the opposite direction. I turned my attention back to Dad. There were very few things Dad hated more in life than falling off course. It was easy to see he was annoyed at having to drive at night, having refused my offer to take the wheel.

“I’m really just concerned for you, Old Man. I know senior citizens run strict schedules for themselves. If we don’t get home by eleven, you might miss out on a rerun of Green Acres.”

Finally, he smiled. “Watch it, Missy.” He tugged on my ponytail playfully. “I’ll give you something to be concerned about.”

I laughed. “You’re just cranky because you haven’t had your Metamucil today.”

Dad laughed at the old joke, but it was a tired, forced laugh, more for my sake than anything else.

In return, I pretended not to notice the artifice in his demeanor. It was like a game of charades that I almost always let him or Robbie win. It was obvious his thoughts were still at Fort Drum with Robbie—but I wasn’t going to call him out on his right to worry.

In my own way, I had attempted to make it up to him a few months earlier by finishing high school. Granted, an uneventful occasion for a homeschooled kid, but it seemed to make him happy for a minute. And while Dad buried himself in work projects, I threw myself into my studies as a college freshman. Usually we met at dinner or somewhere in-between.

“It seems like he just got home,” Dad said suddenly.

It was getting harder for me to stay positive. “Then just think of how fast time will fly until he comes home again.” My smile felt fake and it made me feel like a liar.

Dad laughed again. “What would I do without you, Addie?”

“Phh! Starve to death, run out of clean clothes, never get the car serviced.”

He mockingly bowed to me. “Yes, Daughter, you are exceptionally important.”

I feigned a curtsy. “Why thank you, Father, it is so nice to be appreciated.”

We stayed silent for a long time. This was one of those many moments where I was wishing I knew more about sports or accounting errors or anything else Dad was interested in just to keep a conversation going. When Robbie first left, Dad would frequently spend his spare time pacing the hallways or working on things in the yard, just for the sake of keeping occupied. We were like that in a sense. To avoid thinking we put ourselves to work. But while his arena was his office, mine was the thick stacks of book in the library.

I leaned back and looked at myself over in the side-view mirrors, my hair was a thick, blonde mess— much like Mom’s had been before the chemotherapy. And although my features were symmetrical, I always thought my nose was a little too sharp for my face. My eyes were also as green as Mom’s had been, with that same almond shape I was occasionally complimented about.

Other than that, I was more ordinary than anything else. For whatever genetic reason, I wasn’t long and lean like my parents. Instead, I was petite with a simple frame. If I had cared or put enough effort into it, maybe I could have been a dancer, but the motivation never came to me.

I wrapped my wrists around themselves until I heard the dull pop of the joints. We had only been driving for three hours, but already I could feel the heaviness of the long ride setting into my body.

Intentionally, I put my feet back up on the dash. Dad saw me out of the corner of his eye, but he didn’t say anything. I moaned dramatically and slithered

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