Prompt 003: The Road

patrick joust

The photograph for this prompt is by the talented Patrick Joust. The image above is from his “surreal density’ project. Check out more of his work at

We drove out of the city and the horizon was flat and the sky was grey. Progress was slow in the early morning traffic as families left for the weekend. After a few miles it began to thin out and within an hour we were alone on a stretch of road that ran out straight and eventually met with the sky.

The radio stuttered with regular interruptions of static. Distorted news reports merged into jangly pop rock merged into artificial cheerful commercials. No one spoke.

It was not an attractive road but it held something to it, something we could all sense as we travelled along it. There were parts of the country that were worn and grey and parts of the country that were flattened and new but it was the parts in between that repeatedly caught our attention as they flashed by. The land was patch-worked with tradition and the recent, and it forgot nothing but was helpless to change. We drove over a railway crossing with signals that stood defiant, eroded from a century of wind and rain and disuse. Old relics of a bygone era. A little further the receiver of an emergency telephone hung limp. Overhead power lines interrupted the grey sheet above us which kept threatening to spit but never did. Additions and solutions tacked on for necessity or otherwise.

I rolled down the window halfway to taste the air, curious to validate a sense of instability.

A scrapyard of retired buses collapsing into rust. Vast swathes of long grass rolling gently, the road a scythe through the land. A busy diner lit-up where outside a girl waltzed the car park listening to her phone. Later on a lonely gas station, of which was abandoned or just closed; in the glimpse they were afforded as they passed it was impossible to tell which. A billboard, clear like fresh canvas standing over crumbled headstones and lost graves.

On the journey I would see some things that I liked and I would see some things I didn’t like. What I liked and disliked changed too often for there to have been any logic or reason behind it. I think I liked that which looked like it belonged, but this is subjective. Who can say if a thing belongs. In any case with different perspectives and with more time for consideration the land is always changing.

© Nicholas J. Parr, 2015

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