“Thank you for agreeing to drive down here,” the official said when I’d seated myself in a chair facing her desk.
“I didn’t think I had a choice,” I said.
“You didn’t,” she said and I thought she was making a joke and would smile, but instead she looked down at a file in front of her on the desk. “I see,” she said, “that you’re not from this area.”
“I was raised in Wisconsion,” I said.
“You told one of my colleagues that your first impression of Wheat Basin was negative–that you almost turned around and drove home.”
“I don’t know if I actually would have driven home, but when I left the interstate and headed north that first day, I drove upward for miles through a ravine along a road that wasn’t fenced even though there were cattle grazing wherever the land opened up and flattened out. Then the paved section of the road ended and I drove another ten miles over a surface that at one time must have been gravelled but the stream in the ravine must have carried away most of that and the road was was as rocky and rutted as the trails the cattle had made. Finally, I came onto a ridge, and I just sat looking over the basin which was impressive in its own dried out way even then. But I’m not sure you care about any of that. I don’t think I’m here to talk about my first impressions of Wheat Basin”
“I’m trying to understand what happened there over the past year, and I thought perhaps the isolation might offer a partial explanation, especially when considering your actions.”
“Maybe, though I didn’t walk around all year worrying about how isolated I was. There were roads in all four directions though the one to the interstate was the only one with any pavement, but I got used to that, and I stopped noticing that I could drive for miles on the other roads without passing another car or seeing a house that hadn’t been abandoned. In fact, I started to prefer all the open space and the way I could look out my classroom window and see to the Crazy Mountains to the west and the Smoky Mountains to the north.”
“But it was a new environment for you.”
“It was, but whatever isolation I felt didn’t come from the lack of good roads or the openness of the basin.”
“What was it then?” the official asked.
“It was the sounds,” I said.
end of first part of response to the prompt, “write about an isolated place.”