The Road: On Again, Off Again
written by: SAH
It\'s a beautiful summer morning. I\'m driving home on a country road. It\'s warm enough that the windows are down. There\'s music playing, but I don\'t recall the tune. It\'s happy, as am I.
Suddenly, the vision in my left eye blurs. For some reason I don\'t slow the car. I know the road. There\'s no panic. My vision isn\'t blurred, it\'s obstructed. I calmly remove my glasses. I don\'t wear glasses now. I don\'t drive this car now.
Crawling across the lens is a spider the size of my thumbnail. I\'m startled, but still no panic. I shake my glasses, held out of the window, twice. On the second shake the spider lets go. I put my glasses back on and am plunged into water.
I notice the old man as he notices me: when my car connects with the lake where he\'s fishing with his grandson. It\'s earlier in the morning than I realized before and the day is going to be hot.
The car sinks. The car floats. I swim out. Thinner than I am now. More agile than I am now. And improbably, I push the sinking floating car back to land. But it\'s ruined. I know it\'s ruined. I\'ve seen it ruined and this time it\'s my fault, though I\'m sure in time I\'ll blame the spider.
The man offers help: a phone call. I tell him I have AAA, but it will take hours for them to arrive.
Still no panic. Just a disappointment that feels inevitable.
I was headed back to town for an interview. An interview I won\'t be able to make, for a job I won\'t be able to get, no matter whose fault this was.
I\'m sitting on the shore now. Alone. The sun rises through the trees as I wait for more bad news.
I turn as the old man says something and a cat runs across my head.
I\'m awake in the dark now. I have an interview in four hours for a job I know nothing about. But that\'s not what makes me nervous. It\'s on the other side of town. The last two trips across town have crippled my car. (Or, the car I drive now. I can\'t think of it as mine yet. The car I sunk in the dream lake. The car that was ruined by a careless driver on a waking road. That was my car. And it\'s gone. )
The roads here — Minnesota; winter &151; are heaving and pitted and decaying, like roads you\'d imagine in an apocalypse. They are unsafe to drive, at least for me, and I\'m no longer confident I can make it anywhere in this new car I didn\'t really want, taking trips I didn\'t want to take.
And here now is panic. If I get the job I want, I\'ll make this trip daily. The chances for ruin are infinite. My stomach begins to churn and I realize the night is over, sleep is gone.
As I turn on the computer to write this, in the dark, the world still silent as it should be, I see the date.
And here now is loneliness. And I miss the nightmare that woke me. And my heart sinks like a car in a lake.
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