Monday, May 16, 2011
Wanderlust part 60 "So, no, nothing like camping"
So, I've been here before. The place in this section. I don't know where exactly it was. I don't know its name. I've used my writer's fibbing card to go ahead and make it on the route we're taking and for all, I know, I am dead on the money. It's been a million years since I saw it, but I can close my eyes and remember the awe I felt. I can also close my eyes and remember going through a bit of Colorado that made me feel about as big as a pushpin. The mountains were forever up when we drove down this swath of road cut into rock. I remember runaway truck ramps and only a tiny sliver of sky visible between the two monoliths that were mountains.
I remember a lot. From then. Now, I can never remember why I walked into a room ;)
Anyway, Wanderlust is officially the longest thing I've ever written, weighing in at 79, 139 words and 339 pages thus far. And we're not done. But we are rocketing toward Cali, friends. And I'm glad you're along for the ride. It's so much more fun to travel with kick ass people by your side. Now...I need more coffee.
by Sommer Marsden
There is something about a car that can put me to sleep even if I don’t feel tired. When I’m not operating it, that is. The other way would be pretty bad.
I woke in a rest stop, parked facing the road. The very dark deserted road. I saw one car go by—one solitary vehicle—and it is the only reason I knew it was a road. I woke to a landscape of black nothingness, a sea of shadow.
“Where are we?”
“I see nothing. Jack shit. It’s dark as an asshole in here.” I snorted. “That was one of my grandmother’s favorites, for you.”
“Very fetching,” Johnny said, chuckling softly. “Go back to sleep, Snowflake. You’ll see what there is to see in the morning.”
He reached out in the nothingness and stroked my hair. Stroked me like a cat, not that I was complaining. It felt good. It was soothing.
“What, we’re sleeping out here?”
“Only in a car. And no camping gear. So, no, nothing like camping.”
“Is this what you wanted me to see? The dark?”
“Not really, but I guess it’s part of it.”
I sighed. Found his leg with my hand and dropped my head into his lap. “Okay, but if you’re going to make me sleep in the car, I’m going to be comfortable.”
“Deal.” His hand stroked my hair, my neck, my back and then I was letting go again. Falling back under.
I marveled, briefly, at how easy it was to fall asleep out here in the nothing. Away from the lights and noise and chaos of city life. Away from the neon and the cell phones and the constant flash of traffic lights.
Inside my eyelids it was red. A blood-haze that told me the sun was up. Before I opened my eyes, I was talking. A trait my mother had always teased me about. “Now we have nice bright nothingne—“
I shut up then. It was a long and undulating field of sand. Dunes. Light bouncing off rippling hills. It was the starkest and yet…most gorgeous thing I’d ever seen.
“Yes, wow.” Johnny stared straight ahead. He watched the seemingly never ending rusty horizon.
“So this is…”
“Utah. I mean there’s other parts. Salt flats, rocks, great flat slabs of scrub and vacancy and sky. But this is what I think of when I think of Utah.”
“I can see why.”
“This is me, Really.”
“That is very Yoda of you, but I don’t know what you mean.” But I thought maybe I did.
“I drifted after the accident. I had no reason to do anything but.”
I nodded, realizing this was one of those moments in life when you just kept your big mouth shut.
“I’ve lived a lot of places and I’ve traveled through even more.”
I rubbed a thin spot on my jeans like a worry bead and waited.
“But this place, right here, I sat after I lost them and I thought about how easy it would be to kill myself.”
I swallowed hard. I’d never ever thought about killing myself. Just those weird urges to run my hand along the knife blade, or to jump—all that weird shit born of impulse and ache. We’d talked about how we both imagined that, but in my tiny demented fantasies I never died. I just did what most would not think to do. I touched the fire, cut the skin, fell and then what?…What did I think would happen then?
“And?” I managed.
“And I felt like I wasn’t done. I can’t explain it. But I felt as empty and fucking endless as what you see in front of you.”
“But it’s gorgeous, too,” I said. Feeling like a fool. Feeling like I was handing him a tissue to mop up an ocean.
“Maybe that’s why I didn’t. I don’t know. I didn’t feel done. And at the time, I was pretty much dead on the inside anyway. So it didn’t’ matter if I made it official or not. So, it was okay to just go on because maybe what I wasn’t done was punishing myself. I wasn’t quite finished with the hurting. And I guess I thought I totally fucking deserved it. To a degree, I still do.”
“Just to a degree?”
He finally faced me and the orange glints of the sunrise lit the side of his face. His eyes, so fucking blue and so painfully honest, locked with mine and he said, “Yes, to a degree. Because despite my best efforts to fuck it all up—to spite my own damn self—I have found something with you I thought was lost to me.”
He frowned and I swallowed hard. So very Really of me to fucking throw out a stupid joke because my heart was racing and my mouth tasted like pennies.
“I’m sorry,” I said.
He smiled and something in me loosened.
“It’s fine. Defense mechanism. We all have them. Just ask the turkey I brought you.”
I snorted and covered my face.
“What have you found?” I urged.
I expected him to say happiness, or lust or love. Peace. Any of them. Instead he said, “That one little piece of me that isn’t dead. That one little piece of me that wants to live.”
“I’m glad you found it,” I said. “I know what dead feels like. Sounds dramatic, but it’s true. It’s like shuffling through life instead of dancing. It’s focusing on the anger and the pain instead of…” I nodded to our view, “seeing even little stuff that makes you feel light inside. And hey, for the record, I haven’t exactly been a model passenger for our little trip. I have done my fair share of fuckuppery.”
He shook his head. “Not like me. You’re either brilliant or crazy for riding this out with me, Aurelia Blake.”
“Maybe I’m a little of both,” I said. “And hey, the name is Snowflake. Some really cool guy named me that.”
He frowned, smiled, frowned. His eyes drifting back repeatedly to the dunes. I wondered if he saw his dead son out there. His dead woman. His dead self? I wondered if there were ghosts in that sand for Johnny. And I wondered if someone like me really and truly had any shot of helping him deal with them. Not in theory, but for real.
I leaned over and kissed his stubbled cheek. He was stubble from his scalp to his chin and I wanted so bad to get my hands on a razor and this man. I wanted to make him clean and smooth. Inside and out, body and soul.
He turned to me, kissed me hard. Pulled me to him and held me tight. Tighter than anyone had ever held me. Like I might disappear if he didn’t hold on.
And yet, I still didn’t tell him. It was inside of me. This clamoring, swelling, gigantic wave of love for him. But still, I held it close to me. Clutching it possessively. Maybe I just wanted to hold it and keep it for myself for just a little bit before I gave it away.
I had a feeling once I gave it away, there was no going back.