Mile Zero

May 20, 2010
At the end of the road, she would be free.

But when would the end come? The highway seemed unending, a continuous asphalt needle piercing a continents scattered remains, bringing her closer to the edge. A few days contemplation stalled her trip but, eventually, she came to her uncoordinated senses and began the journey that she felt, deep down, was inevitable. Retrospection wasn’t healthy, it could eat you alive from the inside out. That was why she played so much rock music--to endure. If she didn’t, she’d likely have lost her mind along the way, thinking about her daughter.

Halfway there, she parked her convertible along a sandy shoreline facing a tree-lined inlet with little wake. It was deserted. With the music off, she hoisted herself onto the cars roof and listened to the quiet islands. An occasional fish would slap the still waters surface, attracting large pelicans that yelled in the distance.

She was at momentary peace, attuned to natures everyday blandness, content with its rhythm despite the reason she was there in the first place.

A dolphin suddenly surfaced a few yards off shore. Within a second it was there and gone. She had to take a moment to comprehend what she’d seen and if she’d even seen at it all. The latter briefly puzzled her until, again, a dorsal fin birthed the crest, racing across the lagoon, clearing her uncertainty.

West of her, a violent, angry storm brewed. Large, puffy clouds boiled into the upper-atmosphere, sparking colossal lightning. The sharp, biting thunder took time reaching her and, once there, echoed throughout the shallow archipelago the road had brought her, chilling her. West was where she was headed, towards the trail, a destination that took her decades to get to.

The dolphin did not surface for some time. She assumed it’d left the lagoon, having chased its prey off or played itself out.

But, as she started her car and restarted her journey west, she did not see the dolphin come up for air again.

Heavy ocean breeze poured into her window, bringing with it dangers impending smell. The storm had grown substantially closer… and larger. Lightning forked its deadly tongue, lapping at the waters surface.

The trail was a mile away. She was almost there.

If she had any luck (which life had proved otherwise), she would get there before the storm.

She thought this in the same coincidental mindset that had healed wounds in the decade since her daughter’s murder. She thought, The storm was meant to stop me. The storm doesn’t want me to get there.

Half a mile.

The trailhead opened up. She could see the wooden signs directing tourists where to go; the restrooms that they’d found her body in. Before her daughter’s murder, the restrooms were seldom maintained.

All the sudden, everything was becoming all too familiar. Memories flooded her: the call in the middle of the night, the confusion, the tears, her husband, her daughter

my f***ing daughter

it all felt the same, as though years of work to prevent this sensation, this curse, simply never happened.

There she was, car parked, radio off, staring at the spot where her daughter

my fucking daughter

was killed.

It looked harmless. Palm trees were swaying in the wind, back dropped against the storm, which was drifting further south than she’d anticipated, missing her completely.

The trail looked like nothing but a harmless park, where countless tourists visited, unabated by its bloody history.

Even though she was there

finally there

she realized that she wasn’t feeling different, for better or worse. This made her think that the entire thing had been a waste: visiting the trail hadn’t done anything for her at all, except dry the concrete over the scars she bore. Perhaps that was all she needed?

She sat there. Listening, feeling, staring at the world around. She looked up at the angry sky that slowly dissipating over the keys, thinking about the daughter that would be thirty now.

Before she left the trail, she said, “Goodbye...”

Then she started her car and drove away.

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pinkypromise23 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 2, 2010 at 4:04 pm
wow that was very moving. 5 stars(:
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