Escaping Paradise


Photo credit: Jodi McKinney

“Are you sure this is the right move?” Sixteen-year-old Erin leaned forward against her seatbelt so her Dad, who was driving, could hear her.

“It’s too late to ask now. All our stuff’s moved to the new place in Glenbrook, the house in San Francisco finally sold, so Nevada is our new home.” He chuckled until he saw his wife giving him “the look,” which the middle-aged executive consultant could see out of his peripheral vision.

“Phil,” Esther hissed, adding emphasis.

“Sorry, Erin. I know you miss your friends, your school…”

“Everything,” she moaned. Erin’s six and ten year old brothers Matt and Chad were asleep next to her. “Am I the only one who cares what this move will do to us?”

“We’ve talked about all this.” Esther turned around in the front passenger seat to look at her daughter. “Your Dad’s right about what a mess things have become in the Bay Area. Look at this move as an adventure. I promise that in a year, it’ll be a lot better.

I wrote this for the 195th FFfAW Challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 173.

I haven’t lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since the early 1980s, but I do keep up on the news. Most of it sounds pretty bad. The article I read this morning is called Videos shows Santa Con attendees trashing popular SF restaurant, reporting how two women tore a restaurant apart because the payment for their food orders was in dispute. I had to look up Santa Con, but vandalizing an establishment and assaulting an employee doesn’t seem much like the spirit of Christmas.

I also read recently how people from expensive portions of California, including LA and the Bay Area, are leaving in droves going to much lower cost Nevada.

In 1994, my family moved from Orange County, California to Boise, Idaho for similar reasons, but mainly because the nearest drive by shooting was a mile and a quarter from our house and we didn’t want our (then) little children to get shot, or involved in drugs and gangs.

Life isn’t perfect here, but with each news story I read, I must say I’m glad I’ve lived here for the past 24 years. My daughter, who is now 30, made the decision to move to Northern California, but so far, both of my sons are still in Boise. I’m pretty sure David will always live here, and maybe Michael too, although I think he’d like a place where the politics were more “blue.”

Oh, Glenbrook, Nevada is pretty small, but it’s really a bedroom community for Carson City and Reno. It’s right on the shore of Lake Tahoe, and according to Google maps images, it’s really pretty.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit

15 thoughts on “Escaping Paradise

    • When we moved to Idaho, my daughter had just turned six and my twin sons had turned eight. I think it’s harder when kids are older, especially teens. My Dad was in the Air Force, so when I was growing up, I figured moving was just part of life.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I agree with Sadje that this story is not actually a complete story. It is only an introduction, an opening scene. It has no plot, and it has no movement or development. That having been said, one might speculate on the benefits of distancing oneself and one’s family from an earthquake-prone area, particularly if one considers that there may be some reasonable expectation that property in Nevada near the fault lines may become, in the not-too-distant future, beachfront — as large portions of southern California subside below sea level. While I don’t know of any specific scifi story elaborating that theme, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it may have been done. Of course, one could take the opposite tack, envisioning volcanic action creating an extension of the Sierras so that California is buried under the lava and the resulting coastline is much higher than at present, cutting off Nevada even further from the sea and intercepting any water-bearing clouds that might otherwise alleviate a worsening drought. Another opportunity would tie this together with suggestions about a super-caldera under Yellowstone that erupts to reshape even more drastically the entire western region of the USA. The most western regions of Nevada would be caught between these two events, perhaps offering a degree of refuge and becoming a new dense population center. All of that would put a very different spin on the problems of adolescent angst over losing friends in San Fran and starting over among strangers in Nevada.

    Jus’ sayin’, y’kno?


    • There’s only so much I can do with 175 words, PL. 😉

      In the meantime, I’ve got other more complete stories either submitted for possible publication or in some stage of development.


      • I sympathize and well understand the limitations imposed artificially by an insufficient word-count boundary; and I’ve long appreciated the actual stories you’ve serialized here from time to time. I’ve never been a fan of these limited word-count challenges, but if you enjoy them I can hardly complain. It does seem to me, though, that the time spent on these exercises could be better applied to the planning and completion of some of your real stories which I find much more enjoyable.


      • There are a few benefits of responding to these challenges. The first is that I can write such stories in a short period of time, usually by toggling back and forth between them and my day job. They also involve me in the community of writers who also are responding since we are reading each other’s wee tales.


  2. You did well with 173 words. I hope the kids, especially Erin will understand when she gets older, and maybe even thank her parents for the move. Think of all the ways being in a new place can enrich her and help her grow! 🙂


    • Teenagers are terribly social, and going from an environment like the SF Bay Area to a small town on a major tourist lake within driving distance of Carson City and Reno represents quite a culture shock. I’m sure she’ll adjust though, Jade.


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