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The Highway at Night This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

Even after several years of relatively disaster-free normalcy,
driving still terrifies me. Even on the sunniest days
when the road is completely dry and the sun lights up the road ahead brightly
(but not too brightly, as to obscure sight),
I still envision myself and others I love swerving, flipping, and sliding from
between white and yellow confines of safety, accompanied by
the screech of metal on metal and the shattering of glass. There will be
a brief respite of silence as the metal bodies of cars wheeze to a halt,
a moment before I scream or you scream and we hear
sirens way off in the distance down the interstate and
the lights blinking on the horizon of the freeway, the highway, whatever.
No matter the setting, it's the same situation in my head.

I've only actually crashed my car once, at sixteen.
It had just begun to rain on my way home, and I had just begun to cry,
and all that excess liquid must have clouded my vision because
I failed to brake and collided with something very solid going twenty-five.
In that instant of aftermath, all I could whisper was
“Oh my god,” slurred in panic, over and over.
Even though I knew the sky was empty, I still wanted some divine force
to swoop in in beneficence and turn the dial of time back a few crucial seconds,
so my car's crumpled hood would smooth, the sound
of smashing metal would reverse and disappear, and my foot
would make it to the brake pedal in time.

I'm a nervous passenger too, one of those obnoxious ones
whose feet involuntarily extend and press an imaginary brake,
whose hands twitch to grasp the wheel when the driver
adjusts the radio, tucks their hair behind their ears, lights a cigarette,
or some combination of the three.

I check the accident reports in several states
when I know you're driving to see me. I've always had
the temperament some kindly describe as “nervous.”
In my mind's morbid eye, you would turn to smile at me,
and the semi truck's lights would illuminate you like a halo
before it killed us both.

I am nervous even when you and I are gliding down I-85 like angels,
the dim evening making green and red and white lights beautiful
and luminous as heaven and when your hand is warm in mine,
when love songs are on repeat so loud I can feel
the booming chords vibrating in my chest.
I suppose driving on the highway at night is about as dangerous as loving someone.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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Lily_something23 said...
Feb. 20 at 1:51 pm:
Interesting
 
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