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A Miracle of Degree
part 6
by J.(Channing)Wells


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Point of View
* * * * * * * * * * *

"'The Old Brantsvogel House.'" Reads Eppie, out loud. "'This site was home to one of the earliest Norwegian settlements in the area, having been established well previous to the 1800's, according to current historical estimates.'" She pauses. "You aren't Norwegian, are you, Bix?"

"No." I say, absently. "French and Irish."

"Hm." She says. "'This single-story wood and limestone building was home to the Brantsvogel family for seven generations. When the family finally abandoned this home to seek out a new life in the American West, this house was used as a parish hall for one of the local churches before the site was abandoned in 1920. It remained vacant for five decades before it was restored to its present condition and subsequently placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1976.'"

She pauses.

"We're _really_ lost, aren't we." She says.

"Just go look at the Scenic Overlook or something." I say, still scrutinizing the map, a completely unhelpful activity, considering that it was the goddamn map that got us in this position in the first place.

"We _could_ have asked for directions back in Godknowswhere, Ohio, if you hadn't said you were _absolutely sure_ that you knew how to get us back on track..."

"Look, it isn't my fault they drew the line wrong on the map."

"They didn't draw the line wrong, Bix. The highway people know where the roads go. It's their JOB."

"Doesn't mean they can't get screwed up." I say, my attention returning to the map.

Eppie turns her gaze back to the historical marker. "What's all this crap you hear about dogs and their phenomenal senses of direction? You know, like some family leaves their Cocker Spaniel behind while vacationing in the Yukon and the little guy makes it back home, crossing mountain an' stream an' all that?"

"All right." I say, a bit huffily. "You want to navigate, you go right ahead." I try to neatly fold the map up, get turned around, and eventually end up crumpling the damn thing into a ball and throwing it in her general direction. I then begin somewhat aggressively adjusting the fasteners for the luggage carriers.

Eppie goes over to the map, uncrumples it and smooths out the crinkles. "Okay." She says. "Last town we hit was what, again?"

"Drake." I say, sounding pissed off, although there's no real good reason to be.

"Okay." She says. "I _think_ if we continue on through here, we should eventually hit I-71, and then we can-"

"No Interstates." I say.

She looks up at me. "Why not?"

"Because." I say, still fiddling with the fasteners. "You miss a lot if you go by Interstate. You just gloss over everything. Hell, you can't even stop for a breather except at an 'exit'. You can get a taste of the trip, but you'll never really have been anywhere but where you're going. And that's half the beauty of it."

"I see." She says. "How happy I am that we're doing it this way. I would have just _died_ if we had gone all this way and not ever had a chance to see the Old Brantsvogel House, for example."

"Look." I say, turning on her, the growl creeping into my voice again. "Remember who's doing the driving, Capice?"

"Jawohl!" She says, snapping to mock attention. I snarl, snap at her, and turn away, wandering over to the convenient scenic overlook and peering huffily out over the glacially-scarred landscape.

After a moment I am aware of a presence behind me.

"It is pretty." Eppie says simply.

I nod, silently.

"I think I know where we messed up. We should be able to get back on the right road about twelve miles from here."

I nod, again.

"Sorry 'bout that, Eppie."

"S'okay." She says. I nod.

We remain there a moment longer. Finally, I turn back towards the cycle. "C'mon." I say. "Let's hope you got it right. God knows _I've_ fucked it up so far."

"Don't feel bad." She says, as we walk. "Everybody's got stuff they're good at." She idly hands me a perfectly-folded highway map.

I look at her.

She grins.

And then she takes off in a laughing sprint back to the cycle, in an attempt to avoid my swatting her one, but good.

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