Desperation and the desire to subdue emotion makes the first sign giving directions to the interstate the most welcome sight on the road. There is a slight delay when I stomp my foot, then the V8 responds. Burbling, gurgling, popping; a roar of automobile aggression. The seat gives, just a little, the headrest accepts the touch of my still thick hair, I speed forward.
‘It’s always been about you! The moves, the houses, that ridiculous mid-life crisis of a car. This is about me being worth more than just your ‘pretty thing’ at home.’
A semi grinds its way up the incline, fumes pouring out of the high stack as the aged rig screws its way up the hill. The V8 growls as the gear drops. With the smallest of wiggles from the back end I pull across the line, and leave the trucker hauling on his horn and flashing a wave. Two solo road warriors carrying our separate battles onto the hardtop.
‘So, yes. I’m leaving. Leaving to make my life happy. Taking out the regret I’ve stewed for twenty-two years. It’s time I thought of myself. Like you’ve always done.’
A biker thinks it’s a challenge, and picks up a wheelie beside me as we leave an intersection. The Japanese bike looks customized, shiny chrome and bold decals. Eventually I ease off, sliding down the speedo; one-ten, one hundred, ninety, eighty, seventy. The single tail-light dwindles into the distance. The local rock station is hammering out Iggy Pop and I bang the steering wheel in sympathy with the raw energy of a track older than I am. The speed comes down further when Lou Reed starts crooning about the kind of day he’s had. The police cruiser tucked behind the billboard ignores me.
‘I don’t know if we ever loved each other, not really. We were kids, just kids. I didn’t even know what I wanted. But I wanted more than this!’
The cloverleaf is an invitation to crank the power upwards again, a graded curve from local nowhere to interstate anywhere. From here I can get to Vegas or LA, or catch a loop and go East, back to where the whole thing started four hundred years ago. Drive over the ancient boundaries, feel the native bones ground beneath my wheels.
'You broke me before I knew I was whole. Everything was about you. Never me. Not what I needed, not how I felt, never. Not once. Even the children were all about you.’
The fuel gauge weeps towards zero, uncaring of the pain stopping could cause. Overhead gantries have been warning of a rest stop and I follow the advice, pulling to the inside lane and letting the holiday makers in their SUV’s and Winnebagos smooch past with gawping faces. Flags flap idly in a soft breeze, parents shout at children who shout back and scream, tinny music plays out of poor speakers while I pump gallons of gas.
‘How can you be so damned, passive? Say something, mean something! Forget it, just forget it. I’m gone, do what the hell you like.’
Three hours and over two hundred miles. The sky is bleeding red as the sun heads for the hills, an orb of subdued anger climbing into bed and giving up on a day it regrets birthing. Stars begin to appear, eager to announce the night. The strongest ones pierce the last crimson splash on the horizon. My head-lights cast a halo on the highway. Lights flash by on the opposite carriageways, or drop backwards in my rear-view mirror.
I wonder if she watched me in the rear-view mirror of the Prius, saw me dwindling into nothingness, as he drove her away.