The Journey: 3 (Iowa)
“What happened to you back there?” Summer asked her husband. “You looked like you were in a trance.”
“It was nothing.” His voice was sharp, completely unlike his usual happy-go-lucky demeanor.
They had made a simple dinner of macaroni and cheese on the Coleman stove and the kids were running around on the winter-yellow grassy lawn of the rest stop after eating. Even so early in the winter season it was novel to be able to run on the ground with no snow underfoot. “I can do some of the driving you know. You don’t have to do it all.”
He looked at her and his lips started to move, like he was going to say something but then they clamped shut and he shook his head slightly. “No, I prefer to do the driving.”
The first night in the bus went surprisingly smoothly. Summer tucked the kids into their bunks and made herself a cup of tea. The rest area had free wi-fi and she wanted to take advantage of it to upload her latest design to her website. Jeff had pulled out the bench seat that converted to a bed and was already there with his eyes shut.
She glanced over at him, noting that his face was a little sweaty. It wasn’t warm in the bus. On the contrary, it was slightly cool. They were still in the upper midwest and the temperatures were below freezing outside.
“Why are you staring at me?” he growled in a low whisper.
Echoing what he had said to her earlier she responded quietly. “Sorry, I was just thinking about stuff, I guess.”
“Hurry up and finish what you’re doing. I can’t sleep with all that light.”
She looked at her laptop screen. The light was on power save so it wasn’t very bright and her body actually blocked most of it from where he was. Sighing she powered down and closed the computer. She ground her molars together. If he expected her artwork to pay for this adventure he had better get on board with her actually creating designs.
The next day, somewhere along I-35 in Iowa, where the land is flat and the largest things to look at are the immense windmills spinning madly as they cast their long shadows over fields of corn, Summer opened up the package of homeschooling supplies she’d gathered. After looking at a lot of different web sites and joining several Facebook groups, she’d decided to stick to the the basics of math and English. She’d use their life on the road to create opportunities to learn about other things like science and history and Social Studies.
“Bren and Saige, Come over to the table. We’re going to work on a lesson.” She had expected them to whine and refuse but instead they happily did as she asked and before long were bent over worksheets.
“Hey sweetie,” Jeff called out. “Do you want to find us someplace interesting to stop for lunch?”
It was as if the day before had never happened. Summer had worried over her husband’s behavior to such a degree that she hadn’t slept much. One of her biggest concerns was if he was regretting the decision to live in the bus. They couldn’t easily go back now. Their house was rented and the tenants had a year long lease. Their jobs were history, and in a small town in the north woods those kinds of jobs didn’t come open too frequently.
She had just picked up her cell phone to do a search for parks or historical places when a ping announced she had a message. “I just sold a picture,” she announced excitedly.
“Oh, babe, that’s awesome. Everything is working out just as I’d planned.”