Interstate 109

April 19, 2013
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The humble Mustang bounced along Interstate 109 undisturbed by other vehicles. The sun had set a few hours ago, but the night was still warm enough for the driver to keep the top down. His Radiohead cassette was turned down low, but the sound punctured the still atmosphere. The right headlight cast a milky glow ahead as the left light remained smashed. Suddenly, the weak stream of light scanned over a solid figure in the center of the highway.

The Mustang stopped.

The driver turned down the music and tried to connect the dots of the figure’s outline. As the entity approached, the driver realized it was just a young man of perhaps twenty years old. The young man wore a heavy bomber jacket and worn blue jeans.

“Can I have a ride? I need just need to get to the bridge.”

“Sure man, get in,” the driver felt the hitchhiker looked harmless enough and the bridge was only a few miles away in the right direction. The young man smiled, gratefully, and sat behind the driver. “What were you doing in the middle of the Interstate at this time of night?” The driver glanced at his car watch and saw that it was nearly midnight.

“I was looking for a ride. I just really need to see my girlfriend,” the young man’s voice trembled.

“And she’ll be at the bridge? In the middle of the night?” The way the young man made eye contact with the driver through the rearview mirror caused the air to fill with static. The driver stopped asking questions. Instead he turned back on the Radiohead tape.

After several minutes the young man shifted in his seat. “Do you have a girlfriend?”

“Yeah, she’s beautiful,” the driver’s voice was laced with intimate memories just with the thought.

“I hope you love her,” the young man paused contemplating how to fathom simple words into complex meanings, “...Like she deserves. Don’t fight with her; it’s not worth the time.”

“What do you mean? We’re alright I guess,” the driver was perplexed.

“I’m just saying, if you love her, tell her.”

The Hado Bridge loomed in front of the humming Mustang. Its old iron frame threatened to eat the car whole and spit out its skeletal frame into the rushing river below. Once the bridge had been the pride of the small industrial town; the sturdiest in the county. Now it was being taken over by rust after years of being battered by the river below. The driver noticed the road was still free of cars – desolate. He slowed down his car to an unsettled stop and began to turn around.

“Are you getting off – “his word’s trailed off somewhere with his thoughts as he stared at the vacant backseat. The young man in the bomber jacket and jeans was missing without a trace. The driver had never even heard him slam the loose door, but nevertheless he was gone. The driver sunk down in his seat unsure of what to do next.

The driver shakily put his key into the ignition when a voice beside him made him jump, dropping the keys.

“I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to scare ya mister.” It was a young girl in a calf length white dress dripping with water. Her opalescent blonde hair reminded the driver of yesterday’s full moon. Although the girl appeared to be fully drenched as her linen dress was fully see through, she did not shiver.

“Where did you come from? Are you…are you looking for your boyfriend?”

“Well yessir I am. I must have…well I’m not sure exactly, but I must have fallen into the river and I just must see my boyfriend tonight. Do you think ya could take me in your fine automobile to the other side of the bridge? That’s where he’ll be waitin’ I think.”

The driver hesitated to try and comprehend what was happening. He bent down to pick up his car keys next to the brakes before he answered the girl. However, as he looked up and turned his head to directly where the girl had just stood, he realized there was nobody. The driver felt disordered and wondered if maybe he had just spent too much time alone. Then he saw the puddle of water where the dripping girl had stood moments before and he knew she was not an illusion.

He put his key into the ignition and was eased by the familiar hum of his Mustang. The driver continued on the road even as the sun began to rise. He just had to see his girlfriend right as she woke up and tell her all about the strangers he met on Interstate 109.

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