She slumped in her seat, uncomfortable and bored with what felt like hours trapped in the small hire car, trapped within its thin metal frame with her parents. Her eyes stared unseeing into the passing countryside, trees, hedges, houses, farms. Nothing seemed to change. She had earphones in, discouraging conversation further if the look on her face wouldn’t.
She was crushed into the wagon, the stale smell of too many bodies in too small a space and then slowly the wretched stink of other, worse human odours. Bodies jostled against each other, total strangers often as the wagons jolted over the tracks. It was dark in the confines of the wagon and no-one said anything. She fought to keep her balance and keep her emotions in check.
This wasn’t the holiday she had been counting on, a special summer treat now she was sixteen, an important pilgrimage. So her parents said. It was boring, it sucked and she’d rather be on the beach. They were tense in the front seats, they’d stopped trying to make small talk ages ago. She couldn’t see what the fuss was about.
She’d just turn sixteen, she thought how in another life in another place that she’d still be at school. There hadn’t been any school for a long time. And now the day had finally come and she was here, travelling possibly the same route that her father and her older brothers had in previous years. They’d had no word from any of them, a thought that made her heart run raw. Now it was her turn, her mother by her side now. She reached for her mother’s hand. She didn’t want to know what the future held. The wagons were slowing and soon this sorry mass of humanity would be herded forward.
The car pulled up. She thought about staying put but her parents’ faces allowed for no argument. She huffed and flounced out of the car, throwing her hood over her head, it came down low over her eyes. Her father rolled his eyes but they walked forward together. They came to the gate. She looked up sharply, pulling the plugs from her ears and making her hood fall back.
Arbeit macht frei.
As the shadow of the gate passed over her, her life changed forever. Nothing could ever be the same again.
This week’s challenge was to take our characters on an actual journey in 300 words or less. Naturally I’m over the word count again!