Phillip & Vee: Pt. 1

Jeremy Strough (TheLorian)

Phillip hated the drive home. It wasn’t particularly arduous, nor was it dangerous. The only factor that made the ten-mile exercise daunting was, simply, boredom. After living most of his adult life in Tempe, Arizona, Phillip had been overjoyed to find himself in Iowa. The bland reds, tans, and browns swapped for luscious greens. The overt tapestry of fallen leaves in the fall had also been a welcome sight. What he hadn’t been prepared for wasn’t the winter but the short time directly before it. After the last leaves had finally given up their grip and tumbled to the ground, but before the flurries of snow began to coat everything in bright, pure dazzling white. In that short interim, the entire state seemed to become white-washed and appear only in shades of gray. The fields had all been harvested, leaving only dry husks and furrowed mounds of dirt. The bare trunks of trees appeared gray and lifeless. It certainly didn’t help that the sun was semi-permanently hidden in the overcast sky.

Phillip sighed and adjusted his hands on the steering wheel. Even the old country highway he was driving down was gray, having been made of pavement as opposed to asphalt. If it weren’t for the bright yellow lines down the center of the road, he’d probably fall into wondering if he’d actually lost the ability to see colors. His mind drifted off for a moment, following that line of thought.

“I wonder if that’s actually a thing…” Phillip said aloud to the empty car. “Late-onset complete color blindness. I bet Vee would probably know. I’ll have to ask him when I get home.” Phillip shook his head and returned to the present, just in time to see a speed limit sign. It was one of the few landmarks available to navigate. He was almost home.

For the last four years, since he’d moved to Iowa, Phillip had lived in, and now around, the city of Dubuque. It was a decent place, the people were nice, but he found it dreadfully boring. Compared to the sights and smells and the hustle and bustle of the cities he’d previously lived in, Dubuque’s historic calm and serene beauty were almost…too quiet. When he’d first moved in, it had been himself, Vee, and four other roommates living in a small house in a residential neighborhood. Two of the roommates had gotten married, and moved out to start their lives together. Another had moved to Indianapolis, with his long-time girlfriend. The fourth had more-or-less dropped off the face of the planet, choosing an over-the-road trucking career and living in the tractor-trailer instead of renting a place he’d almost never see.

After that, Phillip and Vee had moved to a large place on Main Street. It had been right in the heart of Dubuque’s downtown district. It had been nice but expensive. Finally, they’d found their current home. It was a small farmhouse, a few miles out from the city. It had a modestly sized yard and solitude. It was surrounded on three sides by fields also owned by the man they were renting the house from. The place had all of the rustic charm that Phillip had come to expect of Iowa and also happened to be in their price range.

Slowing down just enough to make the corner, Phillip turned onto an old dirt road. He knew that he was being too hard on the city. Most of the hardships he’d experienced since moving there had either been his own fault or of no relationship to Dubuque itself. He tried to focus on the happier memories, and there were quite a few. Hiking among the hills and cliffs. Walking out and looking over the grand beauty of the Mississippi. Even all of the people he’d met. It was difficult to attribute a word to it, or even put a palpable statistic to it, but there was just something different about the Midwest. It was subtle but most definitely noticeable.

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