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"45"

by Matthew Perez 10 months ago in fiction

An Excerpt

"...A God Watches Over The Midwest."

Tires roll clumsily against the dry cracked asphalt. The wind gently pushes back against the vehicle as it moves ever forward, creaking and groaning with each passing mile. The darkness of night begins to give way to ever strengthening light, the burning violet peacefulness of a coming new day, betraying the previous night's chaos. As if it had never happened.

My head rests against the window as I try to cling to any rest I can get. I’m in and out, never fully asleep, never fully awake. Static crackles from the radio as we pass another state border.

The white noise traps my senses and before I know it, a deafening silence takes me over. My exhaustion wins. I’m finally asleep.

Tommy wakes me up at dawn, we’re parked at a diner off some highway near some town in Wisconsin. Nice little place, not too many people at this time of day and not too expensive. Food’s as good as you’d expect but they make up for it in quaint coziness that only a side of the road family business can. Still some swelling around his eye.

I drop my knife about 4 times trying to cut through some waffles, my hand’s still sore as hell, skin on my knuckles still cut and covered with remnants of dried blood that crept out while I slept. We get through breakfast, not speaking too much. He doesn’t mention what happened last night. I’m grateful.

We leave the money and tip on the table and get back into the now damaged impala. I tell Tommy I’ll pay for the repairs, he rejects it cheerfully.

“Don’t worry about it, s’not too bad” he says with a smile.

I’m too tired to tell if he’s just being nice.

We’re miles from the diner now, a melancholy indie song fighting to be heard through the radio static. My forehead is pressed against the passenger side window as I stare at the passing scenery. Cars, RV’s, trees and farms go flying by, the blurs of color worsening my headache. I focus on the one static image in all the movement. Murders of crows perched across its shoulders, it sits there towering above it all, what feels like a monument to what was originally just the strangeness of the midwest that has now spread across the world. I wonder what the locals call this one. A seemingly peaceful leviathan is rare these days.

With pale yellow eyes, nearly triple the size of this car, it watches the world around it, ants as far as it's concerned, yet it seems curious. As if it's impressed that creatures as small as us have made so much for ourselves. I wonder when we stopped being so impressed with what we can achieve. Maybe it’s for the best that we don’t dwell on that. Better that we just keep focusing on what’s next instead of coasting on the comfort of what’s passed.

Who knows what would happen if we stopped for too long.

Maybe that’s why I’m where I am, comfortable in the past. Too afraid to take a step forward without making sure there’s extra floor to step on. I guess that’s what this trip is actually all about, isn’t it?

It’s eyes shift and I swear for a moment it’s staring at me.

I try to keep eye contact but my exhaustion wins and gravity shuts my eyelids. A melancholy indie song fights to be heard through the radio static. Tommy focuses solely on the road. Still some swelling around his eye.

Miles from a diner off some highway near some town in Wisconsin.

Miles from home.

Miles from her.

We drive as a god watches over the Midwest.

fiction

Matthew Perez

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Matthew Perez
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