Friday, December 2, 2011

“Single Occupancy”

Brightly the cold December sun hung low in the afternoon sky.  Naked trees cast zebra stripes on the blacktop road.  Sun.  Shadow. Sun.  Shadow.  Sun. Shadow.  Nearly mesmerized by the light flickering through the windshield, I drove.

Sunlight changed to heat as it passed through the car windows.  My face was flush with the warmth while my feet were freezing in the shadows beneath the dash. 

As if measured by a miser, an occasional flake of snow flew through the air.  For hours the snow had fallen thus, and yet there was no accumulation. “Where does the snow go?” I wondered aloud.  It’s too cold to melt and yet there is no sign of it on the ground.  “Perhaps it is the same five or six flakes accompanying me down the road.” 

It would suit my mood to have tiny shards of ice as my companion.  Straight and lonely this road had gone on for mile after mile and yet the scenery had never varied.  Half shutting my eyes against the sun’s glare, I thought that I should feel fortunate that I wasn’t driving directly into it. 

I didn’t feel fortunate. 
She was gone. The weight of loneliness sat on my shoulders and compressed my spine as I hunched over the steering wheel.  My mind had become numb from the sameness.  My eyes, that I had been holding half closed, were now a struggle to keep half open. Slowly fatigue overtook me and I slept. 
I awoke!  Still driving. 

The sun had dropped below the horizon and I had not noticed.  Grief and fatigue created a headache that now settled between my eyes. Beyond my headlights a sign appeared. “M  el” it blinked in red neon.  

My tires crunched on gravel as I pulled to a stop in front of the office.  Peeling paint and tarnished metal were the main decorating elements of a motel that had started out cheep and gone down hill from there. 

Ebenezer Scrooge’s twin stood up from his seat behind the counter and asked, “Single occupancy?” And I cried.

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