Last night I stole my mum’s keys and went for a drive
like I was 15 again, not 28,
visiting from a faraway country,
and at my wit’s end.
It’s summer and the sun sets late.
I’d never driven further west down her road
than three kilometres,
so I set off, chasing the sunset.
Bats flapped frantically overhead
darting between the heavily wooded road edges.
The gnats hung thick in the heavy air and
it was a feast.
A barred owl silently glided across my periphery
as the automatic headlights flicked on.
The road ended further on,
and I could tell the sun was dipping below the horizon,
hidden from view by a heavy patch of inky blue-green trees.
I turned north at the road end and
rolled the windows down.
The concrete undulated lazily past sparse, dark houses and
streams splitting the pine forest.
Out here, the streets have markers
for where you will end up, eventually,
if you take them.
If you take this left,
you’ll end up where you started.
face-to-face with all the problems you’re running from.
The next left,
salivating over a tray of lemon bars
your ex used to beg you to make.
The next right,
eyes the colour of blue agapanthus
napping on your chest
while The X-Files plays quietly in the background.
You need to pee, but in that moment you’d rather die
than stop combing your fingers through his curls.
Three roads up to the left,
you’re in the ER for a ruptured bladder.
Eventually that road ended, too,
and I executed a strategic four-point turn
to go back the way I came.
I felt better knowing what’s out there:
it makes this visit feel more real.
If someone asks me how it was
I could tell them about the bats,
and the owl,
and the road sign indicating the way to my urine-soaked death.