Apr. 8th, 2011


Apr. 8th, 2011 05:00 am
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I can't really remember why. I was in a new apartment or condo, maybe even it was an entire Brownstone. It had the half-held notion of being a "second home", somehow possessed but less familiar than things I usually own. We had friends over. The walls were a warm shade between pumpkin, maize and tan. I looked around and realized we had more guests than usual and that I was being rude tucked away in a back study. As I moved to get up, our newest cat jumped up near me. He was an orange short-hair tabby with amber-gold eyes. He was very skittish around the company, especially the new folks.

Picking him up, I scratched his head and heard his purring build as he half-struggled to get away. I was taking him back out to the other room, we wanted him to get over being startled. As I walked out into the front room, I finally calmed him down when one of the new guests with acne-scars I tried not to notice asked me about the cat. His name. It was dignified, a little cerebral and just thought-provoking enough but its three syllables were gone as soon as I said them. He also asked where the cat came from...

* * * * *

I was in my car, I fretted a bit about how dusty the dash was. I looked up and realized we were up on a mountain road. Somewhere in the Uintahs, possibly somewhere else, the pines were an unreal shade of emerald, almost impossibly green. It was spring. There were a lot more people on the road than I imagined would be when we planned the trip. I noticed a police car stalking a red sporty number like a hungry predator. I also realized I was under the speed limit, exceptionally so. The police car seemed to realize that as well and began to slow... perhaps with the hopes of nailing me with a DUI even though I hadn't been drinking.

I knew it was stupid to re-actively speed up. I knew I went too far, making things look even worse as I ripped out in front of the police car. I knew he would shift right behind me into my lane. I knew that my constant checking of the mirror made me appear to meander from lane to lane as I watched the white shiny car to the neglect of the road. I knew the bright colors ahead peaking through green undergrowth were from a campground. I had a storybook certainty about all of this.

I didn't know about the girls.

Bursting through the wild green off the side of the road two girls emerged, running. They were a total shock, as was the fact that they were darting right into the road. I slammed on the breaks and regarded them with an uncertain horror as I felt the metal and rubber of my car gripping hard under the urgency of my foot. Time crawled. I felt the molten bits of tire breaking away in a black rainbow along the pavement--a tragedy that would soon be faded tire marks, mostly ignored.

I saw the girls clearly, and the knowing slowly returned. They each wore khaki shorts and sun-faded pastel t-shirts, barefoot with the early tan of a spring already spent with a frenzy of outdoor activity. The muted colors of their shirts played between a plum-turned-peach and red-faded-pink in a way that only friends trying to be sisters could manage. The chipped nails of their feet and hands announced the colors they remembered the shirts having been. Sun had also faded their light brown hair, equally but in different streaks and curls of blonde. They were fourteen. One was named Amber. How I knew this as the liquid-like action of my screaming tires was spreading them across the rough road... as my car tried to stop... was something I could not grasp.

But I did.

I saw the policeman's face widen in a shocked scream, lost silently in the chorus of wailing tires. His rubber joined the song and by a mystery of reaction, he managed to flip on his lights and siren. It was a singular accompaniment to the skidding screeches--Like the blooming of another fear under that of the uncertain death before me:I had never been pulled over, a rare, precious perfection was about to be lost. The girl's spring bliss slowly gave way to the awareness of danger, hurtling toward them. Somewhere to my side and behind me explicatives burst from my those in the car with me. It all jumbled in an incomparable mess.

Horror-struck the girls froze in the worst middle-of-the-road kind of way.

No screams, only the barest widening of the freckles dancing around blue eyes.

The mass of my car sunk to the road as it shuddered closer and closer. I wondered if I was about to kill these two innocent girls, just shy of their first breaths of love. Amber was about to tell her friend who she wanted to go to her first dance with. As the facts of their lives burst into my mind as surely as the screaming policeman's coffee was taking flight somewhere behind me, I was still unsure of their fate.

And I didn't know, not until we came to a sudden rest, inches from their cracked and glossy toe-nails. Even in that moment, where profound release and a secondary terror of arrest or punishment warred across my mind, the initial shock was too much. Even as I reached for my registration and thought better of it and unlatched my belt, the majority of my mind was recoiling. Even as I already knew the girls were fine and that the policeman was actually only going to give me a warning after checking my breath, I was too horrified about the almost-destruction. And as my mind shot toward the dark of the room where I was actually sleeping...

...I almost missed a box at the roadside where two kittens lay, abandoned and waiting for me take them home.


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November 2011

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