Don’t slow down (you’ll catch up with you)

by Charlotte E. Wilde

Driving is a good way to run from things but it’s always been a bad way to get caught. There’s something about staring down a highway, that man-made stripe that cuts through hillsides in rural Kentucky or Tennessee or nowhere-city Kansas, that reminds us that no matter how far we drive, we can’t escape the road. Let’s not give this town a real name, lets pretend it’s make-believe, let’s say this town and its spider-web of roads belongs to everyone. It snakes across our minefields and connects the dots between the lives we’ve left scattered behind us along the way. All those humans– the girl with the red hair who smiled at me like we had a secret, the man with the wedding band he twists as he waits for his coffee, the sorry-eyed stranger standing, smoking, that I could have sworn was a remnant of my past but for coincidence and cruelty couldn’t have been. And why? What does a human constellation etched on my ribcage amount to, a splayed hand of would-be loves or brushes of a shoulder that buzzed with importance I was desperate to allot if only to bring some future to the trudging weeks ahead? We’re all desperate for our 7 touches a day, and deficiency drives hallucinations and decisions as bad as espresso cheesecake at 11am.

But here I am alone again and I’m beginning to think we all have the same name, the same face, the same initial that was written in the same way with the same significance and it has ceased to surprise that I might be so easily replaced. Aren’t we all, after all?

Love is a lie we tell ourselves to give a little hope to rolling over on a Melrose morning-after when all we want is the reassurance that we taste sweeter, feel smoother, get wetter than anyone who has ever existed before us or ever will again. We have no future here. The couch knows it, the silence whispers it, the sheets on the bed have always curled away from our feet as if to say “remember when this was easier said than done?” But now, easier done than said for those four letters have revealed themselves to be a bit of a highway themselves. Let me trace the happiness brought by an L, the picture-framed-reality of our O, the V that reminded me what want was, and the E for “Ever” that was anything but.

In no particular order I woke up. I cut my hair.  I payed a man to draw time on my left side, the one with no broken parts, and he said I lied as still as anyone he’d ever seen.  I asked a girl with a sneer to give me something to concentrate on instead of my face and she said she didn’t recommend it but did it anyway. In no particular order I have re-arranged my body. I left him. In no particular order, I have been looking for myself.

I’m still trying to figure out what parts are me and what parts are the ones I made up over time to fill in the spaces between the L, the O, the V, and the E that never really fit together like the fairytales said they might.

But what’s a fairytale if not a lesson learnt about good and evil and the wicked way that heads or tails dont matter in the end? This year has been one of glass houses with glass ceilings and glass slippers left on the looking-glass stares as we all just try to remember how many hours we have left until midnight.

Final count: less than we think, more than we probably want, but let’s chock up our half-way hesitations to a necessary lie. What’s better than a fine layer of glittering ignorance, fairy dust, that lends a little meaning to what our fingers search for blindly in the dark?

Let’s have a drink. I’ll cross my legs, I’ll smile. The name we give it– a noun, a verb– it’s all just a fancy way to say let’s play pretend.