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  • the first
    adam blackrock
    4 Dec 2001

    By now the rain is falling so hard on the windshield that my friend can hardly differentiate headlight-blurs from all the other blurs on the side of the road. Each one looks like the light at the end of the tunnel that I know I'm supposed to walk toward if I believed in any of that sort of thing. I don't, so I push that likening from my brain and sit forward, trying to make sure none of the headlights are coming right at us. He's got the heat on all the way, but its only now starting to spit fourth furnace quality air. It pours through my right sleeve, spreads over my chest and crawls around my back, and for the first time in the trip that wave of nausea filled heat courses through my blood, and I can't help but think that if there were a hell, we'd feel that way all the time. The lights start to look like that light that's at the end of the tunnel, and the heat suffocates me, so I sit back and look out my window and smile to myself: its not everyday a man feels like he's in heaven and hell all at once. My heart and soul expand and contract with my breathing, and very consciously I make my breaths regular and deep, trying to lesson that trembling agitation that is beginning to build behind my eyes like the coming high tide. I get through about five before the newest pair of lights catches my attention. That's about all those lights have time to do before they drive themselves into the rear side of the jeep we're driving in, creating the sound that just a moment before I had felt like I was about to make. Time slows. The chain-link fence that we had begun to pass on our left was lit by a tall streetlight, and beyond it was the green field of the local high school; a huge puddle which shimmered when the brights of the passing cars kissed it, only to leave it dark again as they sped by. The slick, steep incline from the fence to the field tips our car onto its roof just moments after it spun glittering through the metal barricade. It slides and spins to a stop, windows smashed, frame bent, but engine running. Its only now that I realize just how tight my eyes were closed, and I slowly open them to look at the driver of the car. He, too, is slouched awkwardly over his seatbelt, and blood is flowing from his nose and mouth, but that's about all I can tell from the quick evaluation I give him. The other direction is my shattered window, and beyond it the puddle that is the field of the high school, which is now only feet from my head. Large droplets of rain move the water in a chaotic pattern, and my eyes can't stay on just one spot like I would have liked them too, and I am acutely aware that the heat that had so recently filled my senses was no longer blaring, and as I lapse into unconsciousness I am happy through and through.

    The burned husk of a jeep stands waste-deep in a sea of people chanting and singing, and it takes my vision some time to put the blur in order. The sun hangs low in the sky, putting fourth light that is warm and comforting, without oppression or extreme heat. It lights up her face when I draw her to me to hug her, secure in the warmth and electricity of the atmosphere, with its color and sound, infinite in compassion and emotion. We stay this way for a few moments, and I look at the golden sun as it sets over the oceanic crowd. But we can't stay like that forever, no matter how much I wished we could, and she softly pushes me away, only to look into my eyes and press her forehead against mine. They are blue and green all at once, with intent and clarity like a diamond, with humor as well as sadness that stretch on and on like a child's summer day. And I have to smile a bit when I see her, like I've had to every other time I'd seen her, and she can see the mirth in my eyes just before I step away and walk slowly toward the wretched and burned shell of a vehicle. The crowd rises and falls like the sea, fanatical in their noise. I take a deep breath and step up to the front bumper, then the hood, then finally the roof. The crowd quiets to a roar like the sound the tires make on the highway. Then quiets further and further until my own breathing is the only thing I hear. So I smile one more time and begin to speak.