“WE’RE HERE!!!” Syria cheered. Arisu covered her ears, and tried to keep her body from melting in the heat. Syria was not helping. She leaped out of the car and did a horrible dance on the sidewalk. Arisu was too hot to laugh at her older sister. She carefully got out of the car, gingerly stepping on the scorching asphalt. She winced. Syria stopped. “What’s the matter, Mermaid? Is the desert too hot for you?” she sneered. Arisu clenched her fists. “ Like you care,um….Terrible Dancer?” Seria nearly collapsed in a fit of giggles. “ OMG! Is that all you can come up with?” she teased. Arisu gritted her teeth, and was about to hit Syria when her parents came back. “Hey, everybody!” her dad said. Arisu stared at him. His forehead glistened with sweat, but his salt-and-pepper beard was dry. His crisp white shirt was still crisp and white, and his jeans were just dusty from the desert dust.Compared to him, Arisu looked like she had stayed outside in a monsoon in India, if all the rain was sweat and heat. Arisu looked at her mom. Her petite form drowned in a flabby tank top and big shorts. Arisu was sure that they would fall off her mom soon, but she had no desire to see her mom’s underwear. What she really wanted was to be somewhere cool, because she hated heat. She stumbled to the top of the parking lot, figuring that it would be cooler at the top, and her eyes widened. She looked out over the desert, and her breath caught in her throat. She stared at the buttery yellow dunes, as smooth as cream. Colorful canyons rose in the distance, as if it was a beacon rising above a sandy ocean. “Nice, huh?” Syria asked behind her. “Yeah!” she said. She barely felt the heat. She was officially at Death Valley! She grabbed her camera from around her neck and took some pictures. She was about to take more when her mom interrupted her. “You’ll get a sunburn soon without sunscreen!” Arisu sighed. “K Mom.” She went and stood behind her mom.Her mom squeezed the bottle of sunscreen. Nothing came out. Mom frowned. “Someone” she said, eying Dad, “used all the sunscreen and didn’t leave any left.” She waved the bottle. Dad turned as red as a sweet summer strawberry. “ I didn’t mean to use ALL of it.” he stammered. “ I just…. didn’t want…. to catch a sunburn.” He hung his head. Mom sighed. “ I was hoping to go to Stovepipe Wells and set up the campsite. Then, I wanted to have dinner. After that, we would have some fun around the campfire, and then go to bed. But now, we have to get sunscreen, set up the campsite, have dinner, and then there won’t be any time for campfire fun.” Syria and Arisu shared a look, and they formed a temporary truce. They had to do something to save smore-making time! “I know, Mom!” Syria chirped. “Me and Ari will go and get sunscreen. You guys set up the campsite. We’ll meet up at the restaurant.” Mom and Dad looked relieved. “You would do that?” Dad asked. “You’re the best girls ever!” He hugged them. “Go to Timbisha Shoshone Village.” Mom chimed in. “ We’ll be at Indian Tacos and Shaved Ice. Meet at 6?” Arisu rubbed her tummy. “Yep!” Mom and Dad climbed in the car. “See you!” they said. Arisu and Syria waved goodbye. As their parents drove away, Arisu realized something. “Where are we going to get sunscreen?” she asked Syria.
Arisu and Syria sat in the parking lot. “Here’s what we do. We go to The Inn. It’s an inn. There, we ask for sunscreen. Then, we hope that they’ll have sunscreen.” Syria told Arisu. “First off, I think it’s pretty obvious that something called The Inn is an inn. Second, what if the inn doesn’t have sunscreen? Mom and Dad, I imagine, would be pretty mad if we met up without sunscreen. Third, where’d you even get info about this inn?” Syria held up a pamphlet. “ I used this. As I recall, you refused to take one because “they’re as useless as your ballet classes.” She shot a smug look at Arisu. Arisu rolled her eyes. “Alright, fine, but now let’s go! The sooner we get the sunscreen, the sooner I can sample Death Valley Shaved Ice!” Syria sighed. “K,K….there’s just one problem.” “What?” Arisu asked. “The inn is about 3 hours away.” Arisu stared at her sister. “3 hours? Is that by car?” “No….it’s by walking.” Syria replied. Arisu grinned and cracked her knuckles. “I know!” “What? Start walking?” Syria said in a harsh tone. “No, silly! We’ll ask someone to take us to the inn!” “Say what?” “I’m great at this! Just watch!” Half an hour later, the two siblings slumped in the parking lot. “I am not great at this.” Arisu said. Both of them had spent 30 whole minutes running around the parking lot, but no one seemed to want to carpool them to the inn. To Arisu, it made no sense why no one would let them, two total strangers, ride in their car, to an inn without their parents. Maybe, Arisu thought, there just wasn’t any space in their car. Arisu perked up. “I got an idea!” Syria and Arisu said in unison. “We’ll steal a car!”They both looked at each other, and then stared at the cars. “I can see a blue car.” Arisu offered. “Blue’s my favorite color.” “Can’t judge by color.” Syria said. “Judge by speed. I see a Tesla. We’ll use that.” Arisu tried to yank open the door. “It’s locked.” she told Syria. Arisu pointed to the blue car. “ Maybe we should just-” “Smash!” The windows of the Tesla shattered as Syria smashed the glass. For a moment, everything was silent. Then, Arisu exclaimed, “OMG, that was awesome! This is a real adventure!” She climbed into the front seat, and opened the door for Syria. Syria looked up the route and took a deep breath. Meanwhile, Arisu found a potty and some books. She jiggled around in the back seat. Finally, Syria started the car. They drove slowly, carefully coming out of the parking lot. Soon, Arisu got bored. “Syria?” “Hmm?” “Maybe you should….speed up?” “I might crash.” “But….what if people see us? They’ll ask why we’re going so slow. What if they call the police, and we both get arrested?” “Fine.” Syria pressed hard on the gas pedal, and the car shot forward. Arisu slammed against Syria’s seat and crumpled. Syria stopped the car. “Ari? Ari?” Arisu painfully got up and retched. Her sight was blurry, but she could see Syria staring at her with concern. “Start the car. Go fast!” she croaked. She then curled up in a ball and went to sleep. When she woke up, she smelled food. She sat up in her seat. “Food?” she asked groggily. Syria came in and offered her a grilled cheese sandwich. “Hungry?” she asked. Arisu nodded. Syria handed her the sandwich, and sat in the front seat eating….soup? “Whatcha eating?” Arisu asked. “It’s something called tortilla soup. Bought it ‘cause I only have $20 for food. Arisu perked up. “Got any money left?” “Arisu! Aren’t you full? And anyway, we have to get going.” Syria pulled the car out of the parking lot and zoomed toward the inn. Arisu was impressed by her sister’s mad driving skills. While Syria drived, she read some books about people going on cool adventures. I bet Odysseus hasn’t been on an adventure like this! she thought. Suddenly, the car stopped abruptly, and Arisu got a mouthful of leather. “Gross!” She wiped her mouth. “Why’d we stop?”she asked her sister. “We’re here!” Syria replied. Arisu grinned, and she hopped out of the car. She stared at the big hotel. “I wish we were staying here.” Arisu murmured. “Then, we could have a yummy breakfast every morning instead of oats and milk.” Syria replied, “We are staying here!” with a smile. Seeing Arisu’s confused look, she hastily added, “I mean, we’re staying here, because….there’s no fuel! So Arisu, you get your stuff; I’ll get mine!” She smiled nervously. Arisu frowned. Something was wrong. She climbed in the car and got her sandwich and backpack. She spotted Syria’s satchel and reached towards it. In it, she found a big book, a teddy bear[Arisu couldn’t wait to see the look on Syria’s face when she showed it to her parents!], and a wad of cash. She also found a bottle of sunscreen, which she showed to Syria. “Got some sunscreen!” she crowed. “Now can we go back? Death Valley Shaved Ice is just waiting for me to sample it!” Syria frowned. “I told you just to get your bags!” Arisu waved the bottle. “I can’t wait to see Mom and Dad’s faces when they find out! So…...why’d you steal it?”
Syria sat down on the pavement, and covered her face with her hands. “I don’t like campsites.” she confessed. “They have bugs, and dirt….camping’s not for me. When I heard about the trip, I….did a little eavesdropping.” Arisu nodded. “That makes sense.” Syria continued. “ I heard them talking about me. They said that they didn’t have enough money for a hotel, so….” She waved at the building. The truth hit Arisu like a wet towel. “You spent all your allowance so we can stay in a hotel?” She hugged her sister. Arisu remembered something. “What will Mom and Dad say? We stole a car, smashed its windows, drove for 3 hours without a driving license, and now we’re stuck here without a phone! How are we going to contact Mom and Dad?” Arisu paced around the parking lot. Syria held up a phone. “ Missing this?” she asked with a smirk. Arisu stared at her. “Where did you learn all this?” she asked. Syria smiled. “Did some practice.”
4 hours later, their parents were at the hotel parking lot. Their dad’s hair stood straight up, as if he had raked his fingers through them. Their mom’s ebony hair was dirty and strewn with dirt[obviously], mud…..and was that cheese? Their parents looked furious with the two of them, but they were touched when Arisu told them what Syria had chosen to spend her allowance on. They also looked pretty annoyed when they realized all their work and rat trapping[Arisu shuddered when she heard that; she hated rats} was for nothing. But, they were happy that they would be staying in a nice hotel. They managed to fix the windows of the Tesla with some welding[don’t ask] and then returned the car[it was long and painful; definitely don’t ask]. Finally, they were too tired and sore to eat, so they slept. As she dreamed about her adventures, Arisu smiled.