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by P. C., W. Buxton, ME
In the car, passing through, under the bridge, I am. That is to say, I exist in the car, passing underneath the bridge. I'm driving, and my feeling of reality isn't that great right now. You used to say I was a little bit crazy, remember? I do.
And the stinging in my eyes tells me I should stop, but I'm on the freeway, doin' 65 for a country mile, and it feels good to let go. It feels good to take some distance and madly shove as much of it between us as possible. Sixty-five miles an hour means 65 miles that separates us, each hour. Not counting the thousand miles that we started off with between us, of course.
And I drive, and I drive, until the horizon tips up at the edges, curling ever so slightly ... like
You smiled at me when we were lazing about on the hammock. Your lips were pressed together, the smile wasn't toothy at all, like you usually smile. It was the kind of smile I like, because it says that you're happy.
And I have to shift out of fifth because it's too fast now, and it's raining. My eyes still sting, but I don't feel it, because my reality's gone. Not really. I'm just saying that. And, there my hands are, on the steering wheel, holding, clutching.
I recall looking down at your hands and seeing that they were strong hands, particularly for one as delicate as you. But they held onto me well. Your hands gripped the hair on the back of my head and tugged on it, like a handle, when we kissed. It was nice. I liked that. Did I ever tell you that? I doubt it.
Out of fourth, man, into third, and it's like I don't even exist at this speed. At this speed, it's like I have to put up a fight with the stupid side of myself to stop from turning around and going back.
But, no. If you wanted me, you'd call, right? I hope so. But, then, it doesn't matter, but I'm shifting out of third because I almost just lost it (I think I mean the car). You used to call me a liar, but you were only kidding.
It was, like, I guess you were saying the truth but you pretended you were kidding, and that really hurts, I think. I can't be sure. Maybe I was a liar, and you were telling the truth, but I know that I'm crazy now, just like you said. Or, I think I am. I've lost control of the switch marked "Reality."
I'm making myself lose control of the switch marked "Reality."
So, again, I shift down, and this time, I stop the car. I pull over, put my head on the steering wheel. Emergency, say I, where's the ambulance to pull me in and take me away? Like a screaming white womb.
The rain pelts the car like a kamikaze diver, thunk, thunk, thunk, like bodies hitting the ground after falling from miles up and then melting into one big pool of flesh or water, or whatever reality forces itself to be.
I loved your hands.
But I have to think, now.
I have to think ... about revenge. I think I'll go out with that girl at the burger place, you know the one, the one you said I was staring at and I said no. You were right, I was a liar, but not much of one. She was kind of cute. I'll walk right on in and say "Hey, my girlfriend, my significant other, whatever, just dumped me, and so would you like to go out with me and go to the movies to get revenge on her?" And she'll say "Yes," and we'll go to the movies and then we'll get married and we'll have kids and we'll live happily. Ever. After ... Flipping burgers.
And I stop and look at the tree, the one by the side of the road that you said (in your sing-songy, lullaby voice that gave me reality like a Christmas present, wrapped up in a huge, absurd bow) that it looked so lonely. I imagine the car hitting the tree, 65-miles-an-hour, and then I think "No."
Because, really, all you were was just a little piece of my soul, right? Soul regenerates. Like a burn on a finger, the skin grows back over it to protect it in case you ever burn it again, right? The stinging in my eyes gets worse for a moment, but it goes a little away, like the rain.
In case you're ever dumb enough to burn it again, it gets ready for the worst. Why not? Ignition, lights, radio, seat belt, adjust rear view mirror, look over my shoulder and pull back into the lane. It's too bad we couldn't go out to the country like we planned, isn't it? I just may go out there today, by myself. I'm crazy, aren't I? That's what you said, in your lullaby, singsongy voice that gave me reality and then took it away in delicious, vertigo-inducing strokes, but only as a joke. Only as a joke. So, as the rain lets up, I hit third, fourth, and then fifth, going at 65, down the highway, radio on and lights on, too. Eyes don't sting anymore, and the yellow line is calling me on like you used to ... but no, that isn't me anymore. Strictly rear-view mirror stuff. Crossing the threshold from civilization into woodland, searching for Bambi, I find that the anger has left me, and, for a while, I'll be numb. Until the skin comes back and I can play with fire again. And, if I get burned, I think maybe I'll go for a drive.