I haven’t written in a bit. I have a list of stories to write about and some drafts started but then I found this. I had written it a few years ago as a release of some sort. It wasn’t about any event or person in particular. I think it was after my tour, when I had just come back from experiencing the desert. It was just a short story about a girl and the road.
And there it was. The bluest sky she had ever seen. The emptiest place she had ever been. The loneliest feeling she had ever known. She paused, foot pressed lightly against the brake. Her hands gripped the steering wheel. She could feel the cool leather under her burning fingertips. She took a breath and felt the burn of the desert air in her throat. She closed her eyes and everything flashed before her against the dark lids. Flashes of color like when you press your hands hard against your eyes. Bursts like fireworks. They formed into visions and scenes from the past few days.
She saw him. She felt him. She closed them tighter, trying to squeeze him out but instead it only intensified the image. She heard the words, felt the slap. She saw herself making the realization. Then packing. Then slamming the door. She smiled at herself remembering she hadn’t even taken a moment to look back and survey the carnage.
Now she opened her eyes slowly. She was still sitting in her car on the road. The empty road that lead to nowhere. A surge of emotion hit her. She had never been alone in her entire life. This was the moment people talk about when they leave their lives behind. The epitome they have when they realize they only have themselves. Where you know you don’t ever really know anybody. You can never trust anyone. Where you realize your heart is yours again. And she screamed.
She screamed so loud she thought he would hear her from five states away. Part of her wanted him to. To hear her cry of anguish and pain and victory and freedom and come running to save her. To be the man he was. The man she wanted. Then she stopped. Her mouth hanging open, gasping for breath, she lay her forehead against the wheel. She felt the sobs coming. She gasped and panted and moaned. She hit the wheel with her palms and kept on yelling. The curses flew. She felt her stomach twist and turn. She let the sobs keep coming. How did she get here? She had to go back. She would just hit reverse and turn around and knock on their door and beg forgiveness. After all, it was her fault.
She was too difficult. She asked too many questions. She was insecure and she let that get in her way of letting him love her. Letting him in and letting him protect her. She should have trusted him more. Let him hold her more. Listened when he told her she was acting crazy. She shouldn’t have bothered him so much. Pushed him away.
“What the fuck?” She sat up. She opened her mouth again but this time laughter came out. And it filled her entire body. She let it shake her and control her. For once, her smile felt good, natural. Not forced. She laughed. How the fuck could she think it was her fault? Was this a moment of madness? She was so clear when she ran. She knew she had to leave to get rid of the rock that was turning into a mountain that had taken residence in her stomach. The mountain that wouldn’t let her sleep or eat for days at a time. The mountain that looked like a face that she woke up to every morning, watched every day, fell asleep to every night. A face she questioned constantly and even when rewarded with an answer, it was never satisfying. It was never the truth. So she laughed.
“God, what a fucking idiot.” She was speaking of herself. Then she laughed that she was talking to herself. “This is what happens when you leave everyone behind. I am my own best friend.” Not bad company, she thought. Then she stopped for a moment. She had forgotten that she was great. She had forgotten who she was without him. She didn’t even know who she was anymore.
She stared back at the road. Perhaps this was a beginning of a new friendship. She stared at the hard blacktop and realized this was the first moment since she had driven away that she had thought of anything. She had gotten in the car and gone. Just drove to nowhere. She took random exits, following the signs that said west. And here she was in the desert. She always read and heard about people finding themselves in the west. Isn’t that where everyone went in books and movies? The wicked witch found her place there…and her death…not the best example. Of course her pigment was a natural peach and she had no desire for ruby red slippers (although that would be an improvement to her current wardrobe). She looked down at herself and laughed at the fact she was wearing sweatpants and her ratty Zeppelin shirt. She had been wearing this outfit for four days straight. She didn’t even dare look in the mirror but she felt the wind in her hair and half imagined it filled it with sand and grit, making her filthy and caked with grime. She liked the feeling.
The road still stared back. Then it spoke to her.
“I am open, endless, free. I am your answer. I am everyone’s answer. I am unforgiving. I am mysterious. I am a liar and sometimes a cheat. I give time and I take time. But I will never let you down. I will only lead you onward. That is a promise.”
I am talking to a road, she thought. Great. However she found the road had more personality than those she had left behind. She glanced at the passenger seat and saw her phone blinking again. 14 messages. She assumed they were from him. Of course, they could be from the girls she was supposed to be having dinner with the previous night. Or her boss. Probably her boss. She should have called. No, she shouldn’t have. That wouldn’t be leaving the way she wanted.
She wished for a destination. She always heard New York City was where people went to follow dreams and when they were homeless and alone. But she wanted sun. She wanted California. That name just seemed magical to her. Perhaps her passion for the 60’s drew her there. She grabbed one of her duffel bags and pulled out her CD holder. She flipped through until she found the Beatles. She placed the CD into the slot and turned it up. Then she took her foot off the brake. The car began to roll slightly. She pressed it back down heavily, yanked the car into park, and cranked the dial again. She opened the door, jumped out and stood there on her friend, the road. She felt the heat of the sun and lifted her arms up as if offering herself to the sky. And she screamed again. Not in panic or pain but in pure victory. And then she danced. She felt the song and it made her chest ache with memories and pleasure. She danced in circles. Pounding the pavement, doing pinwheels, laughing and singing. She pretended she was the girl they were singing about. She was the face he had just seen and she was the girl like no other. And maybe she was. The chords faded out and the next song came on.
“Nothing’s gonna change my world,” she whispered. She laughed. She was destroying her world and actually living in someone’s else. Or everyone else’s. The big world. She had left her bubble and taken her broomstick and flown west. And now she was here, standing in the desert, dancing to the Beatles.
It’s funny to take yourself back years ago. Mostly you go back to your childhood or another time when you were stressed and freaked out over something small and think “Shit, who would have thought I would be lead here in this moment?” You have plans for yourself but rarely that is what actually happens. Usually it’s a different version of the play you write for yourself. And here she was, starring in the epic journey of another brokenhearted dreamer.
She got back in the car and a new song began. Hard guitar, angry vocals, perfect. She shut the door, pressed the brake, and put the car back in drive. She took a breath. A real deep breath and let it fill her whole body with the dirt from the air and the sun from the sky. Her skin tingled with the heat. She stared back at the road and thought, “Ok, here we are, you told me the truth and now I expect you to keep your promise. You lead.” She took her foot off the brake and began to drive. Still, even with her eyes open, she could still see his mouth. The mouth she longed to kiss and could still imagine how it tasted. She licked her lips and tried to erase the salty cigarette taste she remembered. Maybe she could keep that one memory…just that one…
She let the road lead on….