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You Don't Stop

Kate Barker-Froyland

You don’t stop here. 


You don’t stop here, except for Stuckey’s pecan pralines or for the alligator farm or to see Ralph the swimming pig or the jagged crystal caves advertised on the Wonder World poster. 


You don’t stop except for Whataburger (burger and bathroom) or gas and a scratch off lottery ticket and a Dr. Pepper. 


You stop for these things sometimes and often, but these are the only things worth stopping for in between the straight shots of pavement with their yellow mirrored lines, pulsating with slippery rising mirages. 


“I see water,” I shout. 


“It’s just heat,” my grandfather says from the front. 


And then, my grandmother: “The alligators are comin’ up!” 


We stop and there is water, but it can barely be called that. It’s a mud pond, bits of bumpy snouts and yellowing eyes, razor tails tipping up and out of brackish murk. 


And then, a new site, the jewel of the place: a concrete hut with alligator eggs. 


“Don’t you fall in now,” the man leading us around says. An order. A threat. 


“I won’t,” I say with my eyes. 


“She won’t,” My grandmother says with her voice. 


And then the yellow stripes again, the safety of the beige and fake wood station wagon with its velveteen seats and cold air blasting from the vents. Not a snout or tail in sight, except poking through your own thoughts. 


You stop for peaches when you get to the hills, the road curving at times but mostly flat. The yellow lines still mirroring each other, the mirages still levitating, watery off the pavement. You stop for peaches and a dip in the green Guadelupe, the shade of the cypress branches drooping over the surface like swans’ necks, but you don’t stop for anything else until you get to where you’re going. 




Kate Barker-Froyland is a Copenhagen-based writer and artist. When she’s not writing stories, she’s often drawing and designing patterns inspired by nature. She is currently working on a novel. 


Photo Credit: Emilee Luke, "First Lake Beauty"

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