Don't Get Lost in the Dinosaur Kingdom
by Cortney Phillips Meriwether
After driving by billboards proclaiming WALK AMONGST THE DINOSAURS and LAST CHANCE FOR PREHISTORIC FUN for miles, you looked at me and said, “Well, we were going to stop to pee soon anyway,” so you veered right off the exit before I could say anything, stood vigil outside the women’s bathroom while I went in, then led me by the hand toward the arrowed path into the woods—and, look, I know I shouldn’t have felt scared, and obviously they were just fiberglass dinosaurs, but they were also really fucking big fiberglass dinosaurs, and some of them were practically camouflaged among the trees, so I didn’t even notice them until they were right there—but the point is, it was one thing to laugh the first time I jumped, because maybe I could have laughed that off too, but you saying, “Jesus, Molly, this is a roadside exhibit geared toward fucking six-year-olds” when I started to cry really didn’t help, and maybe I wasn’t crying about the pink pastel triceratops or the pale green brontosaurus or even the twenty bucks you took from me for our tickets—maybe I was crying about how we were 1,500 miles into this cross-country move and I still couldn’t forget the shake in my mother’s voice when she said this is a mistake you can still get out I can help you as I followed you out the door, because now with each step down this ridiculously marked path in the woods, I was becoming less and less sure about you being the only person I knew for miles—and even worse about you being the only person who knew me.
With the space constraints of micro, I love playing around with how setting and place can drive the story. For this piece, I wanted to have something relatively universal and mundane (being twenty-something and realizing you're with the wrong person) happen in a place that was somewhat absurd. And if you're ever passing through Natural Bridge, VA, you, too, can get lost (or found) in the Dinosaur Kingdom.
Cortney Phillips Meriwether received her MFA from NC State in 2012 and has been working as a writer and editor ever since. Her work has been published by Wigleaf, CHEAP POP, Monkeybicycle, Lost Balloon, and elsewhere. She serves as a reader for Fractured Lit and lives in Charlottesville, Virginia with her husband and son.