The dark road tunneled ahead of her, the headlights illuminating a few hundred feet, as she sped along listening to the static from the radio echo in her head. The thoughts cascaded like cicadas in the summer heat, droning endlessly, singing to the only one who understood.
Where she was going she couldn’t say. She could only say what she left behind. Or, what she was running from, trying to leave behind, though deep down she knew it would follow, like luggage transported from one destination to another. There was nowhere to run, no one to run to, no one to catch her. No one to save her. She knew that even as she pressed her foot on the gas pedal until she felt it hit the floorboards beneath. There wasn’t enough speed, wasn’t enough road, wasn’t enough distance between her and the past.
“What the hell does that mean?”
“You can be aggressive as hell when you feel uncomfortable.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be a bitch.”
“I never said you were a bitch, just aggressive, there is a difference.”
She paced her kitchen reading the texts wondering what the hell it all meant. Why would he tell her that just before a date she was already nervous about. She had no idea she was like that. She always tried to acquiesce, to do what others wanted, to appease and please yet she was aggressive as hell? What did that even mean?
“I can’t change overnight. I’m trying for fucks sake.”
She tried to breath but instead inhaled with a jagged stutter. She felt her arms shaking as she held the wheel, pressed the gas pedal harder even though it was already to the floor, and tried to focus on the dark, endless road ahead despite the tears blurring her vision. This was all familiar. Not the road itself but the flight. She flashback to the freedom, at seventeen, when she finally escaped hell; or so she believed then. Back then she also hit the gas as hard as possible, fleeing up the road, leaving the house she grew up in as a distant memory in her rear-view. She never returned even when her mother begged. She never felt the pangs of nostalgia like her older brother wanting to visit the old pizza place and ice cream parlor.
Back then, when she fled, the roads started out familiar, she knew which way to turn, which way led north or south. Eventually she lost track. Eventually she simply drove, focused and unfocused, following wherever the road took her as long as it wasn’t back. It didn’t matter if the sun or moon was shining, it only mattered that she moved, ran, at top speed, as if she could outrun her fear, her pain, her mind and all the secrets.
She carefully arranged the plates, the knife on the correct side, the forks and spoons in their proper place, as the Christmas tree glowed behind her. A bottle of red breathing on the kitchen counter while the white chilled in the fridge and garlic wafted through the house. She pressed her hand against her solar plexus as she glanced at the arrangement, hoping it was correct, praying the glasses were in the right place, wishing for small praise that she fulfilled expectations.
Standing in the kitchen, the heat turning her cheeks pink, she quietly downed a glass of wine and filled it again quickly. She felt that numbness, the softening effects of the alcohol, like cotton behind her eyes, softening the tension in her shoulders and took a deep breath.
“The table is set.”
“I better check to make sure it’s done right,” her older brother said, giving one last stir to the risotto before removing it from the heat.
She felt light-headed from erratic breathing. She heard the buzz from her phone. She wanted to drive to him. She wanted to be held, to be cared for, to be understood but she knew the reality. It was all a fantasy, what she built up in her head, and he didn’t care the way she did. He didn’t feel the way she did.
“Are you okay? You’ve gone quiet.” She glanced at the phone as she pressed the pedal harder despite it being pressed all the way down already and she let the darkness take her.