when i was a kid,
my imaginary friends had backstories.
they came from secret syndicates, from alien
planets, from supernatural cities with neon-lit tendrils and
snippets of forgotten languages:
i would sit in the car and watch them take strides alongside me
and no matter where i was going, they’d be –
i remember that place: its linoleum linings and a
light layer of dirt, i remember windows with
shades that look like panels of carbon-fiber,
that make me feel like i’m something special;
my mother opens a map in the front seat that
could block out the sun, if it tries.
there is no end to a country road, but i would
never worry for my friend outside the window,
because she has a jetpack, and she won’t tire.
falling asleep with my face against whichever side of the leather feels coolest against my skin,
in some memories my sister will be there, dozing in a car seat;
maybe there is rain in the distance, and i urge my friend to join me inside.
and she and i will sit there in the backseat
as an illinois storm batters the windows,
but i am safe, and we are moving far from here, wherever it is that is behind me, i remember
places in fragments, shards of memory and
gas stations in the middle of nowhere;
they feel lonelier than i do.
so far and wide, i can see nothing for miles and
i reach for my friend’s hand, where she looks
my expanse is something of home,
this pretty nothing,
these endless country roads, where i cannot
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.