The horses plodded along on the asphalt of the highway leading southward to the high prairies of eastern Colorado with the wagon of the family’s belongings trailing after them. The bodies sat in a row on the seat: father, child, and mother; each with a hat on to ward off the blazing sun.
It would have been wonderful if Mr. Marshall could have afforded one of those new Model T Fords to make this trip but, as it was, he was lucky his father would part with the two horses and the wagon. His father did not want him leaving in the first place and let him know it, warning about severe consequences. Yet his wife would not stay in Nebraska to see through another winter. She wanted to get out from under the influence of her in-laws.
The bickering had gotten to the point where it was a daily occurrence. Mrs. Marshall had tried to be amicable but the aunt and the sister of her husband wanted her to change in such ways she could not avow. It was not that the aunt and sister were so wrong. It was their general attitude towards her that sent the young mother into a tizzy.
Sure, she was half Sioux but the other half was English and Scottish just like they were. She did not have a say about who her mother was. Besides, being Sioux does not mean the person is bad. At least, that was the way she perceived it.
The child, a small girl of maybe three years old, began to fuss. The mother took the youngling in her arms, cradled her, and prepared to give the toddler some of her sweet milk. The father watched in reverence as he loosely held the reins in front of him.
A Model A rolled by, carrying two men with brimmed hats. They honked and waved at the family, upsetting the child to the point where she was screaming and flinging her arms and legs. The mother yelled at the men but it did not do any good. The sound of the engine drowned out most of what she said. The father waved back as they drove on, knowing they did not mean any harm.
As the sun began its journey in the western sky of blue, the horses were trotting up a gentle incline on a well-worn dirt road. The highway had vanished at the state line. The chunks of prairie grass fluttered softly in the stiff breeze. They could see patches of purple thistle roughly circled by clusters of weeds and peat as if these other plants were trying to protect their beauty.
It was not until the daylight commenced to fading that they, at long last, came to Sterling, Colorado. The family found lodging just off Main Street, on Third Avenue. The toddler was beside herself with protests as she was handled back and forth between the couple while they tried to secure their load for the night.
Looking out of the window in the room they had obtained, they strained to see far to the west. The Rockies could not be viewed yet. Mrs. Marshall pulled down the shade.
Maybe tomorrow would be a better day.
I purposely wrote this without any dialogue, trying to strengthen my skill with a narrative description. I would appreciate any feedback.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” ― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It