All The Way Home

What’s livin’?

It’s just synapses and senses and a bunch of memories stored away for grandkids’ stories, right? How do you know if you’re alive, though? Like, really alive? How do you know you’re not playing with the safety on? How do you know that everything’s real when it feels like you’re eating a candy bar with the wrapper still on?

Everything’s muted out here. Every silence invaded by the whirl and hum of electricity and technology. Night’s emptiness pierced by commuter trains and angry drivers leanin’ on the horn just a bit longer than necessary.

It feels like it’s out there, ya know? Just beyond the fringes. Like the world’s wrapped in cellophane and all you need to do is pierce the veil. Maybe push a little harder, maybe go a little further, maybe drive a little faster.

Maybe press the pedal down on the straight-away. Ignoring the pep-pep-pep of rain on the windshield, increasing frequency as the engine roars louder. Watch the little orange dial strain higher and higher, as a spray of water is stripped off the pavement as scattered behind the rear wheels.

Now 70. Now 80. Now 90.

The hood rattles and the wind whips under and around. The wipers struggle to keep up with the constant onslaught of the sky. Bombarding the windshields as fast as the wheels can spin and the pistons can fire. Pedal to the floor.

Now 100. Now 105. Now 110.

The speedometer maxes out at 145 miles per hour. Where does the veil max out? Where does it rip and tear? Where is the intersection of life’s beginning and her ending?

Now 120.

Headlights illuminating flecks of water, milliseconds before they die on the headlights and front fender. Trying to push the accelerator through the floor boards. Eyes closed, but peeking.

Now 130.

A flash of light on the other side of the guardrail. Probably nothing. Maybe a cop. But either way a shock. The wheel jerks; the tires slip; the car spins.

140 miles per hour in an uncontrolled spin.

They say turn into a skid, but no one thinks about that. The world’s a blur. Darks and lights spinning around at speeds incomprehensible. Fightin’ the urge to close your eyes and accept the ending. Teeth gritted. Blood drawn from the gums. Leather squeaking until white-knuckle death-grip. Pinned against the door by the force of it all.

Finally alive.

The tires catch dry pavement. A loud squeal. Smoking rubber smell. The Mustang’s facing the same direction. It’s three lanes further to the right, but the spinning’s stopped. Still facing the same way. Stopped.

Pet-pet-pet-pet-pet.

Rain peppers the windshield. The wipers roll and toss it aside. Is that it? Am I on the other side?

Release the clutch and press on the gas, and it moves. Now 10, now 20, now 30. Take the next exit and through three red lights all the way home.

Grab the leftovers off the passenger’s seat. They’re still there somehow. Unlock the door and fend of the dog’s embrace.

“Hey, buddy. Momma gave me some food for you. Who’s a good boy?”

Who’s alive?

Advertisements