Prompt: What is seen through open windows (290 words)
The neon lights match the dusky pink of the sky. She can feel the burn of the bulbs through the pane of glass her head is leaning against as she watches the scenery pass by in a blur. Abandoned motel pools, deserted strip malls — it’s strange how much contentment and security she feels from places so empty.
Vegas is a chipped jewel — shining and bright on the outside, but cracked deep enough to show what’s really inside. It shows off the parts that don’t want to be seen. The parts Cali wants to see more of. All of them.
Her parents finally pull into The Pink Flamingo, a tiny, seedy joint with three cars in the parking lot and six of the sign’s letters burn out. Her mother is annoyed they have to stay at a place like this. Her father says this is the best he could do on short notice. Cali wonders why this place, with its desert-yellow walls and sandy sidewalks makes her feel like she belongs.
When they’ve checked in and put their bags in their room, Cali ventures out to the pool area. It’s empty now, but with the leaves sprinkled across the water’s surface and the whorls of dust coating the pool’s floor, she’s not so sure that anyone would’ve been swimming anyway.
Despite all that, Cali kicks off her blue flip flops and stands on the pool’s first step, feeling the grit and grain between her toes. It’s uncomfortable, but a discomfort she likes, and she adjusts her feet into a firmer stance. She tilts her head back and looks up at the sky. Out here, beyond the Vegas lights, the stars reveal themselves, slowly, like shy children. It makes Cali smile.