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Adventure Fantasy Friendship

"We have to set an intention first, Matthew..." 

Jennifer grabbed the phone.  

"You don't need the phone to set an intention". Matthew snatched the phone back. 

You'd think this couple were in their teens, but apparently 50-something soulmates married for thirty years can do the whole "playful bickering" thing just as well as their younger counterparts. 

Matthew and Jennifer walked out of their house and headed towards the gravel driveway. Autumn leaves, strewn across the yard, crunched underfoot. The bright sun hung low in the sky, with only a few wisps of clouds, but offered little warmth. 

"Who's driving?" he asked, jingling the keys mid-air.  

"You!" Once again she grabbed the phone from her husband. "I'll put the information in the app and see what coordinates it gives us, then let you know where to go..." 

Matthew tousled her red curls. "I'll tell you where to go, missy..."  

Jennifer rebelled against the whole "go gray naturally" trend, despite her spunky 75-year-old mother calling hair dye "Cancer in a Bottle". She even had the gall to make a song about it, singing it to the tune of "Message in a Bottle" by The Police.

"Hey!" she protested, giving him a shove. "That's not nice!"  

Matt almost fell. "Jesus, Jen, we're not in our 20s anymore. Unless your intention for our trip was Broken Hip..." 

They laughed as they got into their white Chevy Cruze.  

He started the car, waiting for the heater to kick on. "So you're sure this is safe?” he asked. She loved the crow's feet around his blue eyes, time's inverted commas that broadcasted either joy or concern.  

Duchenne marker, they called the genuine smile. Right now, though, his crow's feet were definitely furrowed towards worry. 

"Oh come on. Have I ever steered you wrong?” she asked. Matt raised an eyebrow. "OK, except for ghost hunting at the abandoned state penitentiary... " 

He shook his head and rolled his eyes. His effervescent wife—always up for a crazy adventure.  

"Look, this will be fun. All we need to do is set an intention..." 

"Like money? Lots of money”, he said.

 It was Jen's turn to roll her eyes. He didn't need to remind her that they lived paycheck to paycheck, especially since she took care of the household finances.  

"I don't recommend that. There's an incident where these teens intended money, and found a suitcase containing a dismembered body..."  

"Jen! Oh my God..." He grew as pale as their car's paint job.  

"But that was just a weird random thing! Just one incident..." 

"That you know of, Jen. Of course it was random...that's what Rando stands for!" 

She let out a huge sigh. She adored her husband, but sometimes trying to coax him out of his comfort zone made her weary. 

She massaged her forehead. Her excitement level was nose-diving. 

But then she remembered what her best friend, Heather, found on her first experience with RandoJRNY... 

Jen brightened back up. Maybe if she told Matt about Heather's experience, he'd feel more at ease.  

Matt turned up the heater. She put the phone down on her leg and began rubbing her hands to get warm. The portable essential oil diffuser attached to one of the vents filled the car with the sweet lively scent of spearmint.  

He didn't want to rain on her parade. Why can't you be more like her? He hated his anxious nature. You wouldn't have had most of your life's memorable experiences without her…

He, too, let out a big sigh.  

"Let's set our intention", he said, looking at Jen with so much tenderness she thought her heart would burst into rainbow confetti. 

"Are you sure? If you're not comfortable, I don't want to drag you into..." 

He placed his hand on her arm and kissed her cheek. "I'm sure, Babe. What will it be?" 

"What about... purple?" she suggested.  

"Purple? Is that really an intention?" 

She shrugged and smiled. "Why not?" She grabbed his hand. "Close your eyes and imagine purple. Intend purple." 

They sat silently for a few minutes, head bowed and eyes closed. If their neighbor had peeked out her window, she would have assumed they were praying.  

Eyes now open, they smiled at each other. Jen typed PURPLE in the intention box, then pressed GOrando. 

After a few seconds, the app generated GPS coordinates for them to follow. 

••• 

They drove up, down, and around the twisty rural roads characteristic of southwestern Pennsylvania towards their destination, coordinates selected by a random number generator that—supposedly worked in tandem with the quantum field of intention. 

If the world was a simulation as some speculated, random excursions like these could disrupt the matrix...and possibly reveal glitches as a result. 

"How much longer?” he asked.  

"About two miles more", she answered.  

They had been driving for about twenty minutes, seeing more trees than houses as they meandered on pot-holed roads while dodging a few deer. Jen loved October, her favorite month. The sun-dappled yellow, orange, and red leaves dazzled and thrilled her. 

"OK, almost there."

The car ascended a steep hill, rounded a curve—and a village of houses appeared below as if God lowered a colorful folk art painting into the middle of nowhere.  

Jen looked over at Matt, staring ahead, gripping the steering wheel. "Wow. Where are we?” he asked.  

She looked down at the phone. "Not sure. Don't see a town name on the generated map."  

"There! Turn right!” she yelped. 

Matt slowed down towards the bottom of the hill before they got to the village. He put on the turn signal, even if no one was in sight—let alone another car. 

He turned into the lane. Braked. And they gasped. 

There, in front of them, was a stone fence. With a mural painted on it. Grass, flowers, cows, clouds, hot-air balloons—all in various shades of...purple

Purple

"Holy shit, Matt!” she squealed. "Are you seeing this?" Her smile was so wide he could barely see her sparkling green eyes. 

He laughed at his gloriously rhetorical wife—and this painted purple stone wall staring back at them. 

"Man..." Matt shook his head. "This is crazy!" He finally put the car in park. "We gotta take pictures. No one would believe us!"  

They got out of the car and Jen began snapping pictures. Oh, they'd believe us alright, thought Jen. She had visited the RandoJRNY community board earlier that morning and read some of the amazing synchronistic experiences of fellow Randos. 

Sure, there were a few scary and weird tales posted there, but they were flagged as trolls by the Admin—so she didn't give them another thought. 

Jen walked up to the fence. The paint looked so fresh and smooth, it could've passed for wet. The stones were rough and cool. She marveled at how detailed the images looked from a distance—but up close, they seemed a bit distorted in shape and size.  

Did she smell grape? Not grapes. Grape. An artificial scent straight from the 80s—of Kool-Aid and scratch-and-sniff stickers and Bubblicious bubble gum.  

She suspected she was a synesthete because she smelled colors, but she hated labels. 

Matt stood off to the side, arms crossed, eyes still wide as he stared at the mural. He kept muttering "Wild. This is so wild." 

"Well, this is a raging success!" she exclaimed. "Want to do another?" 

His head jerked towards her. Another? He always joked her motto was "Too much is never enough".  

"Are you serious...?"  

"Yes!” she busted out laughing.  

He looked at his watch. His stomach grumbled. "Lunch first?" 

"Awww no! Can't we try again?" she pleaded.  

His least favorite thing in the world—well, next to smokers, fundies, and liver—was telling Jen "no". 

If he could, he'd give her the world.  

He smiled. "OK, girlie..."

She started clapping, but he held up his hand. Jen stopped, looking expectant. "But only if the coordinates show a trip of less than ten minutes away. Deal?" 

Jen looked upward. She reminded him of a two-year-old who was just asked her age but couldn't fathom the answer.  

She counter-offered: "OK, unless it's in the direction of home. Then it can be longer." 

Matt grabbed her and hugged her. "You rascal!” he said into her hair. She hugged him tight. Everything with Jen was a series of mini-negotiations.  

He wouldn't have it any other way. 

They got back into the car. "You pick the intention this time!" She thrust the phone into his hands.  

"Babe, I can't drive and navigate at the same time..." 

"Oh, I'll navigate after you type in our intention and hit GoRANDO.   

"Hmmm. Well...what about infinity?" he offered. 

"Hmmm. That's not very specific...." Matt looked almost hurt.  

"Why not?” she said quickly. "Maybe we'll end up facing a wall with a lemniscate painted on it." She smiled at him and his Duchenne marker—crow's feet and all—was back.  

"Do we have to do the whole heads bowed...?” 

"Yes! Now come on so we can get some lunch." It was her stomach's turn to growl. 

They intended infinity, Matt typed in the word and pressed GoRANDO. Just like before, a few seconds passed before the app generated their GPS coordinates.  

"Looks like our destination is just a few miles from home. We'll stop at Little Noe's Diner when we're done. How's that sound?” he asked. 

"Yummy!" she replied. "I've been craving their zucchini fries with ranch dressing." 

Matt started the car. "Alrighty, then. Our Rando journey, then food. Here we go." He handed the phone back to Jen. 

Finally, they returned to familiar roads.  

They passed Dr. Hadley's veterinary clinic (she took great care of their three cats, Geddy, Alex, and Neil), Wilson's Farm (home of the juiciest, tastiest summer tomatoes), and Sky-View Drive-In Movie Theater (still the best way to watch a film).  

"How much further?" he asked. Jen consulted the phone. "Less than a mile. Looks like the destination is near the riverfront, past the railroad tracks." 

A train whistle blew in the distance.  

They rounded a curve...and Dr. Hadley's Veterinary Clinic was on the right. 

Wait...what

Matt slowed the car. Jen rolled down the window.  

Cold air rushed in. 

What the actual... 

"Jen. Jen. Jen...what's going on?" He never took his eyes off the road.  

He sped back up, still not looking at her. Refusing to look at her.  

What had she done? Where had she led them? 

Wilson's Farm. Again. 

This cannot be happening. 

Sky-View, up ahead.  

He thought he heard Jen whimper, but he was not going to look away from the road. 

He couldn't.  

Nearing the riverfront. A train whistle blew. Their car rounds the curve. 

Dr. Hadley's Veterinary Clinic. On the right. 

February 27, 2024 19:40

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12 comments

Marty B
00:22 Mar 06, 2024

Oh that's so terrible! They will never get to the zucchini fries with ranch dressing!! Lesson learned when making requests from the 'quantum field of intention' do NOT think of infinity! Thanks!

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Janet Boyer
01:11 Mar 06, 2024

Exactly! Those silly kids... 🙄🤭😉

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Alexis Araneta
09:27 Feb 28, 2024

Very interesting story, Janet. The details were really lovely.

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Janet Boyer
12:00 Feb 28, 2024

Thank you so much, Stella! 🙏

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Mary Bendickson
21:09 Feb 27, 2024

Round in circles...

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Janet Boyer
21:28 Feb 27, 2024

...like a record, baby.

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Rod Gilley
03:15 Mar 07, 2024

Hi, I was invited to join the "Critique Circle" and give feedback to a few stories. I must assume you have joined that circle too, and wanted a critique of your story. With that said, I must say, you are exceptional at writing characters - who wouldn't find Matthew and Jennifer absolutely adorable? They are wonderful. I also like the "Twilight Zone" style ending. My only critique here would be... "...traveling a road that has no end" - Your story doesn't seem to fit the prompt. Seems they are launched into a spiraling Twilight Zone loop with...

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Janet Boyer
13:08 Mar 07, 2024

Thank you for your feedback! I really appreciate it. 🙏 Matt and Jen are a lot like my husband and I. 😉 I totally get what you're saying about the prompt. I thought I'd put a twist on the neverending road idea by making it circular... because how in the world are they going to get off that road (if at all). 🙂

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Rod Gilley
17:29 Mar 07, 2024

A circle. True, like a race track, around and around. I get it! I think maybe the word count limit got in the way. More time in that circle would have really drove the idea home. Your story is fun, and your skill as a writer shines. I look forward to reading more from you!

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Janet Boyer
18:12 Mar 07, 2024

Thank you, Rod! I appreciate your encouragement. 🙏

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Wally Schmidt
06:16 Mar 02, 2024

Loved all the details you incorporated into your infinity loop of a roadtrip. The dialogue was so natural, I felt like I was right along with them in the car for the ride. Your writing feels like you know this couple, or maybe you are this couple...charming, loving, & comfortable.

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Janet Boyer
15:37 Mar 02, 2024

Well...they are a LOT like hubby and me. 🤭 Write what you know, right? 😉 Thank you for your kind words, Wally! 🙏

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