I pull the car into empty space at the side of the road. There’s no crunch of tyres, no engine idling, none of the stereotypes of this action that books and films would use to tell me I had stopped driving. All is quiet and empty. Quiet and empty in the world outside as much as it is silent inside my head.
So now, I sit and I wait. Waiting for nothing. Waiting for everything. Wait for myself to catch up, restart maybe. But I’m still blank right now. I’m not here, not really. And I’m not really sure where here is either.
I stare ahead without looking. I don’t see detail or focus on anything in particular. There is simply a general impression of the world around me, greys and blacks, dark and not-quite-so dark. And space. The space gives me some form of peacefulness: there is no artillery barrage of words, no pressure to speak or do or be something other than the nothing that I want to be right now.
Where did things go wrong?
It wasn’t one single point of failure, just a gradual drift away from everything that you had ever wanted and thought might happen. It was the loss of possibility and perhaps, the loss of easy and relaxed… Knowing that life could take me anywhere and there were no limits with you was part of what made us, and then that all went in a single moment, and I could see nothing but limits and compromise and lost choices. That was what killed me, I think. Closing doors on things that could have been, that is the hardest part.
It is time to let go of this. There is no blame and I have not run here to get away – I think I am here to come back. I have been absent for a long time and losing yourself is the worst kind of loss. You grieve but don’t really, because you’re gone but still there, and you cannot really grieve for yourself, can you? No you can’t. But, you can erase yourself, let yourself disappear inside another you, one not quite so complete or whole, but the you that is present enough to convince everyone with eyes that you exist.
I’m coming back, I can feel it: a reboot is happening, full system reset and switching back on. I can breathe now, and something new begins to fill me up, flushing out the voids inside: refresh, refresh, refresh.
The empty spaces outside me begin to fill now and I can see the details, re-energised eyes opening up again and seeing things anew as they focus once more. The trees to the side, dark but highlighted white where snow has blown onto them across the open ribbon of my road; a sky overhead, not dark but not light, grey streaked with ripples of clouds undulating above me for as far as I can see but not see, beyond the end of the road. And moonlight, here: cool and calming washing over my brave new world.
The button clicks as I switch the engine on. It hums to life, a soft rumble vibrating through the pedals and into my feet. It is time to leave, wherever it is that I am. The road looks soft and grey and open, it is wide with possibility and perhaps. The sky ripples overhead, easy and relaxed. Pulling back onto the road, the tyres crunch across the unfinished surface before they find smooth tarmac again.
(Author Note: not sure if this is going to fit somewhere into the episodic book I’ve posted other ‘sprints’ on or not, but it feels like it might fit with an earlier part of the story).