By Andrew Ross
All he was able to do was ride in the car as a passenger and gaze out the window in mute amazement. He was enthralled with the sights of the city; it all looked fresh and new, yet debased at the same time. He observed with a new mind washed clean of the past and it thirstily drank in all that input. The intense urban energy radiated out and washed over and through him. The constant attention it required was nearly overwhelming.
It was joyful because it felt like life and frightening because it felt like death. And death seemed to be waiting. The hospital stay was a fading confused memory and he could not deal with putting the pieces of that experience together anymore. Instead he meditated with a mute mind empty of words or aspirations.
There was an awareness of time and space changing. The other cars were rolling islands of humanity in that inhospitable space. There was a surreal sense of being connected with people in the car in the next lane on this journey. To where? he idly wondered. He felt like asking them, yet they were so far away, insulated in their own cocoon, their own reality. How could they possibly understand what he was feeling? He doubted that he could say anything comprehensible let alone something they could understand. He had the sensation of being alone and invisible; he almost felt like a ghost.
There must have been music playing. It surrounded him yet it did not penetrate his consciousness. He was oblivious to everything inside the car. His focus was elsewhere.
Mesmerized by the reflections of things in the shiny paint of the car in the next lane – the lights of the towns, and signs, the reflective pavement markers, and Bott’s dots on the surface of the road; he had nothing to say. All he could do was absorb the sights and the physical sensations. The occasional bright white light was like a physical blow. The vibration of the undulating patterns of scrapes, scratches, potholes, and patches in the road played different frequencies of a strange music as the road surface changed from asphalt to concrete and back.
Clean dry roads felt different compared to wet roads. There were the sounds of the different surfaces on the bridges and the side to side feeling of the rhythms of the curves.
The land changed gradually over the miles going by and the shock of a sudden vista kept him interested. Conversation with the driver was pointless. He was incapable of voicing his thoughts and feelings in any understandable way. It was too frustrating to try, so he kept his meditations to himself.
The sun gradually set, turning the sky orange and then red as the grassy hills deepened into a golden-brown color and slid into darkness. As the city sprawl slowly transitioned to countryside the muse gradually shifted to a less intense feeling as the landmarks grew sparse and the light began to fade into nothing. He felt naked and terribly alone and lost out in the nothing. There was nowhere to go, no refuge. The world felt cold and uncaring. To stop was to die.
He no longer had any idea where he was, it could be anywhere. All he could see was the road ahead, everything else was blackness. There was hope, still. Hope that somehow it would all work out. All he had to do was hope, trust, and dumbly keep his faith.
He was hypnotized by the white dashed line wending along endlessly going somewhere yet nowhere to infinity.
Andrew C. Ross was born in Toronto, Canada, resided in Santa Barbara County for 56 years, and is currently living in Orcutt. He has one self-published book, two novels in process, and about 27 short stories. Andrew is a member of SLO NightWriters, for writers at all levels in all genres. Find them online at slonightwriters.org.