The Chasm

by Sue Ellis

There is a ramshackle little town in the Arizona desert where tourist Hummers from nearby Las Vegas whip the dust in the streets onto the already unclean storefront windows; the six passengers hardly taking notice of the shabby citizens; instead bracing themselves for the harrowing dirt track/road trip adventure that will lead them to the lip of the grand canyon. My husband and I have camped for two days among the cactus and snakes at a little RV park that's really a low-rent refuge for the nearly homeless. Chemical sensitivity keeps us from joining the throng; someone might be wearing perfume, so we gas up the Subaru and follow along at a respectful distance on a road that can only be described as a goat trail, until we notice a few goats going overland who have better sense. The destination is run by local Indians, a site seeing tour of the Grand Canyon with a new glass-bottomed viewing platform being built out over the edge of the canyon, extending out over a chasm so overwhelming as to cause toes to draw back in their flip-flops even as the spirit soars - but, alas, the platform is not open yet. We find the concession area and a cool drink, browse the trinkets in the open-air shop and congratulate ourselves on finding a place where I can "be" without the inhaler or head pain - and that's when we find out that the tour is on a bus that runs the length of a paved road along the canyon's rim, with passengers whose names I already know: Tide with Bleach, Snuggle Fabric Softener, Johnson's Baby Lotion; and a husband who refuses to leave me. No walking allowed, for safety reasons, and so defeated we gaze longingly at what is visible: the high side walls of the canyon's red, ochre and bronze rock formations across a chasm that no horse or outlaw could jump.


Sue Ellis is a retired postmaster who lives with her husband in Spokane, Washington. She has been previously published in Flash Me Magazine, Camroc Press Review, Wild Violet, and Dead Mule, all online publications. She is a member of the Internet Writers Workshop.