Friday Fiction – Learning On The Road

I write this with a fractious toddler sitting next to me, demanding I find the one picture of Jack the Digger in his 400 page book of Thomas pictures. Needles and haystacks are less frustrating. At least by the time I found the needle, I wouldn’t discover the seamstress had lost interest and wanted a thimble instead. But I digress.

Happy New Year, my friends! I hope you find more to make you think, laugh and feel among the pages of Elmowrites in the 2015.

Friday Fiction is hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields; today’s picture comes from Jean L. Hays. Your feedback is what drives me, please leave it honestly, and be constructive if you can.



Learning On The Road

“OK, listen,” Alice bent the guidebook back to read. “‘Route 66 has dwindled since the arrival of the interstate. The Main Street of America is now a side-road.’”

“Can we get lunch now, Mum?” Corbett whinged, uninterested.

“We just had breakfast,” said Lucy, sounding frighteningly like the voice Alice heard from herself sometimes: exasperated and impatient. It was hard to be enthusiastic with demanding children, to find excitement in the drudgery of motherhood.

’There are faster, more direct, easier to navigate ways from Chicago to LA, but none has the romance and wonder, twists and turns of The Mother Road.”


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

43 responses to “Friday Fiction – Learning On The Road

  1. Helena Hann-Basquiat

    There are those things that interest us, and that we’d love to impart to others. Like the majority of your writing, your strength lies in your immeditately human and recognizable characters. We’ve all played out this scene, in one fashion or the other. Sometimes we were the children, too.

    • I’ve definitely been both children – I’m just learning to be the Mum (or avoid being her) now! Great to se you, Helena. I’ll be looking out for your story this week.

  2. Dump ’em and drive off. Someone will take care of them. Pick up some people who are interested.

  3. I love this metaphor – the mother road – you’ve got to travel it to get the little bits of joy amongst the traffic jams, litter and break-downs.

  4. Jen, your story’s torn from true life and all moms have been there. I like the way you tie in the “Mother Road” and the line about Alice realizing that Lucy sounds like her is all too real!


    • Thank you, Janet. I wrote the moral of this story by accident, but perhaps it’s the Muse (or someone else)’s way of reminding me to stop and enjoy the journey. You’re right that Alice certainly isn’t the only Mum to miss parts of the journey in a mistaken view that she wants to get to the ‘prize’ at the end

      • One of the problems of being a mom is not knowing for sure what the prize will be! We have no way of predicting how our children will turn out or even how long it will take them to “turn out” into whatever it is. So we might as well try to enjoy the time along the way and we’ll probably find that everyone else enjoys the journey more that way, too.

  5. I loved this. So insightful.

  6. Dear Jennifer,

    I enjoyed this story on more than one level. As the mother of three sons I remember the days of their whining on long trips (or even short ones). You had me at once on Route 66 with impatient children. And I thought of you as you’re preparing to turn another corner on the Mother Road. Well done.



    • Thank you, Rochelle. The latest twist certainly hasn’t been an easy one, but I’m trying to remember to appreciate the journey. This story was a message to me from my subconscious, I think!

  7. As I read this I couldn’t help but think that you must be preparing yourself for the future. 😀 Of course, in a good way. 🙂

  8. Ha. actually this brought me back to my own childhood .. always those winding backroads, leading inevitable to motion sickness… hmm. But now at the steering wheel those roads are filled with romance..

  9. bykimberlylynne

    Thank you for the dialogue. Real people living real lives, and a hefty dose of BTDT.

  10. The Mother Road, I wonder how much that is a metaphor for motherhood, much slower and circuitous, but more more memorable in the long run? Nice story. It seems you have been channeling real life. 🙂

  11. Wouldn’t that be fun? Sans children. You really made me feel her frustration. Cheers.

  12. pattisj

    How moldable those little ones are, and they model themselves after the ones who have the most influence in their lives. Enjoy this age, as too soon they’ll be wanting to borrow the car keys.

    • He’s so imaginative – every song has Sebastian’s special treatment aplied to the lyrics, and he doesn’t seem to mind too much when I fail to produce the made-up Thomas episodes, but the clouring book pages are always a challenge!

  13. Romance and wonders, twists and turns – yep, that’s motherhood. What a ride! Well told story. I love it.

  14. Nice one. Loved the last line.

  15. Dear Jennifer,

    This is the best story you’ve ever written. (You’re smack in the middle of ‘say no more, lest you ruin the compliment’ territory. I am in love with your use of the Mother Road as allegory for the journey of motherhood. And that you wrote this with Sebastian demanding his due from the best mother in the world. You are beautiful and your story is perfect. I’m shutting up again.

    So well done.



    • I think you said something similar quite recently, Doug, so I’m obviously on form. At least as far as your opinion goes! The allegory was presented to me by the Muse and I take no credit – as I said above, I think this was more a reminder from my subconscious than anything else!!!

  16. Loved this. And an interesting sequel to this will be the moment when Lucy realises that she sounds like her mother. Good luck on the ‘mother road’.

  17. The same muse inspired me in the use of the mother road and I loved your story.

  18. Time her son learned to show an interest! Perhaps if she got him to read out of the guidebook he’d feel more involved?

  19. Dear Jenn,
    I loved your intro and the way you wove the children factor into the story. All I can say is, “Are we there yet?”

  20. This has such a familiar ring to it! The rocky road of motherhood is seldom dull, and few things make us squirm more than hearing our own voices come from our children’s mouths. I have four daughters so it happens a lot!

    • Wow, I’m sure it does. And sometimes that can be a good thing, because it shows they are listening,but sometimes we see reflections we’d prefer not to. Happens to me with a 2 year old, so I can’t imagine 4 older kids!

  21. Yep, it’s the journey, not the destination.

  22. Dee

    Laughing at Lucy sounding remarkably like Alice, it’s not only the words but the tone of voice too. Had a similar experience with my granddaughter on Saturday, my familiar words coming back to me from the mouth of a not-quite-four year old, correct in context and tone made me take stock of the little sponge by my side. Parenting – an awesome responsibility.

  23. Michael B. Fishman

    This was an excellent story. So many 100 word stories feel incomplete but this one was like a perfect little bubble of time captured inside of those 100 words. Sadly, I really couldn’t identify with it very much because I’ve never felt exasperated or impatient. What can I say… 😉 Well done, Jennifer.

  24. Dear Jen,
    I’ve been woefully inattentive to other bloggers in the past few weeks–even my Friday Fictioneers friends. So I’m trying to play catch up this week, and I’m glad I caught this one.

    I love the connection you make between motherhood and the Mother Road. You’ve taken the most obvious plot line for this photo and crafted it into something new and unique. Nicely handled.

    All my best,
    Marie Gail

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