Wherever

I hopped on the flight a split second before it took off. Which makes sense because it really was a split second decision to leave that library, to leave the dorms, to leave all those engineering books behind along with the laptop and the college branded hat and everything else I thought I cared about. The shit was all still there most likely, but I wasn’t coming back. Not tomorrow. Not ever. I was the only one on board. It was so strange. As if the plane was just waiting for me and me alone. The stewardess smiled and the captain chattered on about the weather and clear skies ahead. I’m done here, I thought, and smiled right back at her.

As we were taxiing, I saw a plane above us behind us start to land. But he was wobbling. Smoking even. I watched him, wondering what was going to happen. Waiting for him to crash somewhere in the nearby distance. But then he righted and the smoke disappeared and he seemed to land alright.

The driver tried to make small talk on the bus ride from the terminal to the depot. “Where you going this morning.” “Home, I guess.” “Where you coming from?” “Stanford” I said. “Oh are you a student there?” “Yes.” “Do you have family here or…” “Yes” “Spring break or something?” “Yup.” It’s easier to just agree than to actually explain the messy truth. But he seemed genuinely interested. We got to the depot. There was nothing around except dust and elephant grass. As I was about to get off, I realized I was wearing the same clothes I slept in last night – my old green Hollister sweats and that dirty white t-shirt with the holes in the armpits. “Do you have a ride from here?” He asked. “Yes.” But I felt bad being so curt with my lies the whole time. Like the same robots I was running away from. I had been with those kind of people for too long. “Well… Not yet. We’re a bit early. Worst come to worst I’ll just take a taxi, you know, its fine.” I thought about it and realized that I don’t have my cell phone with me. I left it there with the rest of the shit on purpose but the reality of permanent disconnection hits you hard every time you reach for your pocket. He must’ve saw the fear and confusion in my face. He looked sort of confused himself. “We’re only a few minutes early so I’ll be fine. Really. No worries. My ride should be here shortly.” He tilted his head like he could smell the lies “Are you sure? I can maybe…” He looked so concerned. Too much so for a complete stranger. “No no. Thank you. I’ll be just fine.” His face dropped a little. I took out a few bucks and shoved them into his hand. He raised his arms and shook his head and refused to accept any of it. “No no you need that for the taxi.” I smiled. There were still human people left in this world. Those who accept the opportunity to break the rules of social norms. “Ok. Thank you. Very much. I really appreciate that.” We stood there staring at each other for a few. Then he looked away and said “You know… As I was driving to the airport this morning… The strangest thing… I was so late already… and I’ve driven these streets so many times before but… This time… At this one stop sign… on my left… I saw this path open up. Right before my eyes you know? Like I was staring off and suddenly the bushes moved… and there was this dirt path into the woods I’ve never seen before. It was so beautiful and inviting… I… just… wanted to… but I was already so late I… But the whole time… Now I can’t stop thinking about it. That entrance. Where it went. How… and I dunno. I dunno if it was a one shot thing and even if I go back there and try to find it… I mean… will it still be there?” Funny he should say that as I’m the one who actually decided to go down that path. How do you think I got here like this – jammies, no wallet no phone no nothin’. And I don’t wanna be the one to tell you the truth. That it wasn’t that beautiful. That it wasn’t so special. That in the end, it all just leads to back to the same place anyway. Maybe a little different. A little prettier along the way. But no better in the end. Ah. Fuck it. Why ruin the illusion for you. Your dreams of golden arches and childlike wonder.

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