by Sarah Downey
So here I am... here I am... travelling my car on a freaky highway. The highway is long, the highway is endless. It perspires of sweat, blood and dust.
My memories are appearing as though following me through the trail. A black coat, some red tape, a large sapphire ring: it all floods back still colourful and fresh in my mind. The open road is a page-turning book destined to meet people of all calibres, just waiting to lead them away from the start.
I gaze ahead real far and wide; I can’t describe what I’m feeling inside. It’s all laid out on this grey- and white-striped road with the heated desert on my left and right. The population of the highway is mainly cacti and sand.
The nude and plentiful sand under the prickly cacti mix to form a tense revelation in my mind; thick and threatening thoughts disturb me... should I feel guilty? The road says no... the road says we all desire escapism. If things don’t work out, we drive away and solve it through rationalisation and calmness.
I’m not angry any more. The sun beats heavily on my back, the base of my neck is warm and wet, I tip it with my fingers and realise I am burnt. The delicate peeling skin comes away in my fingers and I can’t help but feel emotional at the stingy unfairness. I increase speed to feel the wind against my face, to brush away the past as it gets left behind on the road: 60km... 65km... 78km... 93km... 125km...
The road is empty; it’s gloriously vast and lonesome just like my life. The faster I go, the more blurred it becomes; the cacti and the sand are splattered paint against my eyes.
How could this have happened? Why did she have to say that? Poor Sally... I don’t think she meant it, I know she didn’t. Redheads always overreact in tense situations; they have no control over their tempers.
Poor Sally, with her tumbling red hair and silly remarks, they always made me feel inadequate. Like when I said I loved her and she told me to leave her alone... the highway is merging and becoming a painting of green, yellow and hot orange. It’s like I’m crying and the tears are obscuring my vision.
We had an unbearable conversation today... so unfortunate. It was all because of how we met... Sally said I’d been following her and she was going to report me. She said since we met at a book club meeting, I just wouldn’t leave her alone.
I said, “Well now, Sally, you shouldn’t have encouraged my attention if you didn’t want it...”
She began to cry after I said that. Big fat tears of sadness to which I said “that’s love for me, right? Well don’t feel guilty Sally, I forgive you... I do, I really do.”
There is a white Chevy in front of my car, I’m driving up the rear end and the driver doesn’t like it. He pulls to the side and lets me overtake. I love his honesty, that mannerly tone in people kills me every time. It just kills me. 127km... 140km...
I burst right past him like the winner of a race, I catch a glimpse of his face and it kills me... a hateful stare that lets me know he wants to knock my teeth out... his honesty... it kills me. I wish Sally had been honest.
“What do you want... how did you get into my house?”
“Sally sweetheart, what’s wrong, what’s the matter... won’t you tell me what’s the matter, Sally-”
“Don’t call me sweetheart! I hate you, why can’t you just leave me alone?”
“What is the matter with you, Sally?”
She never wanted you and you know it.
Don’t interrupt me while I’m talking.
Why won’t you admit that you have a problem?
Stay quiet; you don’t know what you’re talking about.
Why don’t you slow down, jackass!
140km... 150km... I don’t even recognise where I’m going anymore, I don’t know how long it will be now before an end will arrive. I didn’t mean to do what I did, I swear I didn’t... she was just so horrible to me and all I wanted was to be her friend and when I started to feel more, she didn’t like it, she said I had a problem and I needed help. Since when do people need help for loving another human being, for just wanting to be held and to hold back, to say “I love you” without being laughed at... look I’m crying now, are you happy? Do you see what you’ve done?
Sally knew you were crazy and so does everyone else!
Stay quiet or else! You don’t know anything, you don’t know Sally, and she knew me.
She knew you were following her.
I wasn’t following her, she asked me to follow her.
Oh really? She asked you to follow her? I would’ve loved to hear that.
You know nothing about Sally and me...
There was no Sally and you...
Oh here it comes... the end of the road... it’s ending and I’m falling... I didn’t mean to do it to Sally, I swear I didn’t. If only she’d agreed to be with me, none of this would have happened.
“Get out of my house, you weirdo! I’m calling the cops!”
“Sally, don’t do be silly. I’ll make you tea and toast, just sit down and relax.”
“You’ve been following me for the past three months, I just can’t get it through to your sick head that I’m not interested. I don’t love you, I hate you. What is wrong with you?”
“Sally, don’t say things you’ll regret in the morning... sit down, Sally.”
“Get out, you freak, get out! Get out, get out... get out!”
“Sally, stop it.”
“Help me! Someone please help me!”
“I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!”
“No, Sally no!”
“Get your hands off me... get off me, get-”
It was Sally’s fault. She wouldn’t stop saying those things to me. You would have done the same thing. What was I supposed to do? Women complicate everything. It’s not my fault! It is not!
You don’t know what you’re talking about! Look how fast we’re going now...
I don’t even know where I’m going... did I ever? I’m sweating so heavily, my shirt is soaked and stinking. The cacti are gone. I suppose the sand went with it. Nobody ever wants to be with me... it’s so tiresome trying to get people to like you. Ever since I was younger — Watch it you maniac! — I’ve wanted to fit in but people always told me they hated me.
And then Sally came along. I went to my local book club and her first words to me were; “Good read, wasn’t it?”
I turned and stared at her tumbling red hair and beautiful smile.
I knew then that she loved me. As I watched the pink of her lips turn an attractive cold blue, I knew that she loved me. As I took the sapphire ring from her finger and placed it on mine, I knew we’d be together for always. It’s like a fairy tale really. I feel bad about putting her in the boot but she forgives me... not too long now Sally! ... 155km... 167km... 180km...
The wind is carrying me now... I press down on the accelerator and let go. It’s all so easy now. We should all just let go... let go... let go... all I can see is sky. An endless twinkling blue sky; so magnificent I can hardly bear it. I can’t breathe. My bones are shaking with excitement. We’re taking off... I can see your face... we’re flying Sally, it’s over.
Poor Sally... lovely Sally... silly Sally.
Copyright © 2006 by Sarah Downey