Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Last Day

He didn't know it yet, but it was his last day here on earth.

The car purred along at eighty miles an hour between roaring semis and commuters sipping on their lattes. He had the radio off for once and listened to the music of the machine: the air rushing past, a faint croak as pivots in the suspension absorbed the bumps of the highway, the hypnotic drone of the motor.

He found all of it soothing, a kind of lullaby.

In the car, he had moments of peace. Being between places gave him the chance to review the slide show of his life. Did he have regrets? Sure. Who didn't? Successes? A few. Failures? Too many.

He was scheduled to be at a luncheon, but had begged off and gone for the drive instead. This was the time of reckoning. With no one to hide from, he was brutally honest with himself. He looked hard and clear at the corners he had cut because he was afraid. Rather than chase the dreams that haunted him at night, he had chosen comfort, security, mediocrity. The consequences of postponing happiness had piled up and hardened into a calcified and rigid straitjacket.

He was done with it.

Mountains on the horizon hid the rising sun but the sky was brightening, a rose fading to blue. A river of red lights pulled him along. When he considered the magnitude of machinery, each set of lights a story, an amalgam of metal, plastic, glass, and the brilliance of engineers, all flying along in sync, not just here but all across the country, it made his head spin. Cars upon cars, in the millions, snaking in a hissing string along the roads of America both amazed and appalled him.

The freedom and the poison of motorized society was a noose he put willingly around his neck.

In a sense, he was just one of many. In another sense, he was the secret to changing course, to pulling up abruptly at the lip of the edge of the precipice. Nothing kept him from jumping the tracks of habit except habit itself, but there were the excuses, always the excuses.

When the front tire failed with a report not unlike that of a rifle, he was holding an idea of what might be possible if.

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