DRIVE

Or how to write in a carnal style about driving to get rid of the blues.

She’d been cut open, and for weeks glued to the bed sheets. Now the bathroom mirror reflects the hidden Hyde. Knotted hair. Red puffy eyes and acne-covered cheeks that accentuate the chapped, salty lips with dark circles. A fearful facsimile.

Inside the shower, water trickles down her swollen belly. The stitches feel as expected: thread tugging at the flesh. Raw to the touch. The remains of severed nerves. She turns the shower knob, the water ceases to flow but blues remain like stubborn soap scum. Either way, time’s up. She has to return to work and the long commutes.

Across the mirror, a forced smile takes form. The red in her eyes are now honey-gold eye shadow. Still she thinks… a Maybelline renewal is no match for the heavy grip that loss has on her shoulder.

Its nails dig right into her; jerks her while gasping for air. Her hands hold on to the sink. She can feel her chest cave in. The caramel makeup is now a futile dam for her weeping flow. She gazes at her tear-filled eyes. Beyond them there is the black below; she dangles over it. This is not new to her, in her tongue she can taste it. The darkness enters her throat. This caustic black depression.

Another day. Another episode. And desperation now whispers in her ear and exits through her mouth like a tidal wave. She presses herself to the sink. The torrent courses through her, now she longs for dreams of wheat fields. To be normal. To be present. To be.

She exits her house. Inside her car, she strokes the steering wheel. The seat hugs her. Her cravings are for new asphalt, a stable road that leads back to her. With a start in first gear, she turns the wheels but only to hear the creaks ensue. One foot on the clutch while the other’s on the accelerator, her syncopated dance.

She never sees the pot hole. The wheel axis pounds against the road, and for the first time she feels rage. And as the wheels drive her away from the moment, the realization comes: She feels anger again…for weeks she had felt loss and voids.

Who knew silver linings could be in the depths of pot holes?

Behind her commuters loom large. The car’s revolutions get louder. The cue to shift along with the hum. With her left foot she steps hard on the clutch. The wheels spin faster.

She presses forward and touches the steering wheel as she cuts across three lanes of speed junkies. Unleaded confidence is the best gasoline. At 80 miles per hour, the rearview mirror reflects drivers the size of ants. And she smiles like a jockey with his first victory garland.

An upcoming exit is on her right. In unison with the road, she curves to the right along a curtain of pine trees that give temporary shade from the blinding sun, and while the bend disappears at 60 miles per hour, she straightens to face the morning sun. The rays penetrate the windshield, warm her exposed thighs.

Giant construction trucks flank her right side. But she crosses into the coasting lane. Getting there faster won’t make any difference. Now, in the slow approach on this first morning back from injury, she finds a speed that’s fast enough to get there but slow enough to notice that it’s autumn. Her time to make it morning.

The trees of 55 South form an endless wooded corridor. Burnt oranges, magentas mix with crimson vines that cling on trunks. Pines remind her of sergeants uniformed in evergreen. An industrial mower trims the medians. The smell of cut grass along with its sugar finds her. Her tongue swells with saliva. Time freezes. Pain seats buckled on the back seat. The car cabin is washed in a.m. light. The clouds become proxies and the car blends with the firmament above. Black eagles circle high enough to expose their gray bellies. Now the windshield is her mise-en-scènes.

The sun rays move from left to center along with the visor. In a never ending attempt to minimize the squint of the eyes, the vertical wrinkle has already carved itself on her forehead. And her eyes catch a glimpse in the rearview mirror, a face that transforms itself into the next decade.

She swerves the wheel away from desiccated fur that’s forgotten on the pavement.

Her mind rushes, wishing for the truth in reincarnation.

The GPS alerts her… the end of the drive is near. Now the trees toss red and brown leaves on her path. And she realizes: she had a passenger, her smile that rode shotgun the entire time.

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