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The Dangerous Road


Kathleen Lank


You finally reach your car. The walk seemed eternal. You can’t quite remember what the man on the sidewalk said to you. His voice sounded muffled and you could hardly make out his face. What happened tonight? Where did you just come from? You clamber into the driver’s side, drag in your left foot and slam the door. You drift forward and toss back, tempted to fall asleep right there. As your eyes slice open, daylight creeps up on the darkness. Beside you is a familiar briefcase, your closest companion during the past five years at Miller and Co. You visualize its contents, countless sheets of your former company’s now useless letterhead. You punch it ferociously and watch the skin on your knuckle fade from white to painful red.

What time is it? How did you end up in your car? When did you leave the bar? None of it matters; you just want to get home. Your insides gyrate as the world fades in and out of focus. Home, and then it will all be better. Home to your bed, your warm bed, where you can nurse the feeling that creeps up your throat. You reach for the pedal and find your other foot. You kick again and find the brake. You peer up into the mirror and catch a glimpse of your own fiery eyes. Something makes you avoid their stare. You fumble through your pocket, produce your keys, drop them and then retrieve them again. You jam at the ignition, find a perfect fit, and rotate your wrist…

Time passes and you realize that you’re miles from where you started. You propel forward, and fast. Where are you? Where are you going? Your heart begins to race. The world accelerates around you as your car gains speed. The lights blind you, the sounds are frantic. Flash, beep, screech. How did you end up here? How do you stop? Why is this happening? What is happening? Now the world swirls around you in a hazy cyclone. Everything in your view rushes towards you, like a massive vacuum of images that collide and mingle in front of your eyes. You feel trapped and scared. You blink to escape the storm. Your body goes numb. A loud honk forces your eyes wide open, just in time to see a flash of red light ahead…


Finally! You got it. The best day of your life has officially begun. You’re independent and unstoppable. You see your boundaries crumble to the ground to reveal an open road ahead. From now on you and the car will rule the wide world in front of you. You’ll become the popular one. You will drive people places, and then sail off alone. Your hair will pitch and fly in the soothing breeze. So why not go for a quick ride? Your mother and father are still asleep. Plus, you have another two hours before practice starts, and you’re buzzing with excitement.

You tiptoe to the car and pull silently at the latch. You carefully lower yourself into the left side of the car. The new perspective feels foreign and exciting. Your stomach flutters with disorientation, and you slip the key smoothly into its home. Foot on the break, you turn the ignition, shift to drive, check your mirror, check your blind spot, and slowly creep forward. You brake, signal left, rotate the wheel, and recover to ten and two. Perfect. Now you’re on the real road, the big road, and you feel a surge of freedom. Signs whiz past you. Yellow for caution, orange for construction, like the handbook said. Every five seconds or so, you glance up at your mirror. You see yourself in partial profile, mature and in control. On the right, your school looms over the sidewalk, an immense mass of red brick. If only your classmates could see you now!

You bend around the curb smoothly and confidently. Your insides hum as you gain speed. Ahead, you see the familiar sight of consecutive green, yellow and red lights. Green, so it’s your turn. As you enter the intersection, you feel an intense wave of pride, then a tsunami of terror. You catch a glimpse of something coming towards you on your right, fast, out of control. You brake, you scream, you lay on your horn, you turn away, and you look back to see a quick flash of green light…

The earth shudders as two cars crumble into each other. One rolls off to the right and lands upside down, the other bounces down and flips over. Somewhere within the cloud of dust and smoke, worried onlookers discern the vague outline of two cars, still, mangled and lifeless.

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