Wandering down the lime green horizon.
Between the crackle of static is the melody of the Allman Brothers playing the classic ramblin' guitar solo.
I'm laying in the back seat looking up at the ripped and stained taupe fabric I know too well. I lean up on my elbows and scan my eyes over the front row seats, seeing his grease-stained fist hit the dash to even out the radio. He curses and speaks out loud "*$^%, damn radio crapping out again.."
I duck back down against the sage green leather seats and squeeze my eyes shut. This has to be a dream. I don't remember anything. Not how I got here or where we are going.
But it feels so real. The air is thick and smells like spring blossoms, coming in through the half cranked down crooked window. I reach up above my head to touch the door frame and window crank. I can feel it. My whole body goes cold. I want to throw up.
I need to gather my thoughts. Think. Think. Where were you last? When did you get in this car?
I remember something significant and trace my fingertips along the door handle, up underneath the chrome latch.. feel for it.. feel...
OOW! I yelp and push my pointer finger between my lips to lick the blood coming to the surface of a fresh cut.
"Careful.." his coarse voice speaks out to me, though he doesn't take his eyes off the road.
I grab and pull myself up into my seat, aligned in the seat behind his so I could see better, my finger still fixed between my lips as my eyes look toward the rearview mirror.
His piercing lime green eyes met mine for a few seconds, wide and directly looking into mine.
I wanted to say something but I choked up and began to sweat. Cold sweats.
"Listen.." he said, his eyes staring dead into mine through the mirror reflection - not breaking the stare as he drove straight down the road on autopilot.
"My father was a metalsmith down in jackson. And he wound up on the wrong end of a gun..." his voice said sternly, as he told his story. " And I was born in the backseat of a rusty truck...".
My face began to tense, my brows wrinkling as I locked eyes with him. The lime glow around his pupils intensified. I was trying to follow and process what he was saying as he went on, slowly unraveling what seemed like a meaningful purge of past trauma.
"Rollin down the highway, he said son"... His eyes changed in that moment.... eyeballs watering up and narrowing. His gaze, it looked right THROUGH me like he was somewhere else.
I'm completely paralyzed in my seat, both hands now clinging to my thighs and my shoulders are locked in a tight freeze. My neck is so tense and I cannot look away. The lime glow keeps intensifying. His pupils look too large and he is lost in a sea of memories. I have never seen him so lost in sadness and despair.
Grandpa had died before I met him. Nana was devastated after he left one night to go to the E.R. with a bad cough and was admitted for cancer. He would never return home to his four kids or wife. He died within the week with late-stage cancer. I'd heard the story from my Nana growing up so many times...
I know this. I know this. I have heard it so much and believed it.. but maybe Nana was heartbroken and did not want to speak the truth. Maybe the truth was too painful for everyone. I needed to know the truth. I listened intently for the next few sentences to unravel deeper meaning about our family history.
"What did he tell you?" I ask him.... watching his pupils readjust and change in size again. A tear rolls out of his left eye, welling up underneath the lid. It's on the edge, about to roll down his face when he sniffles and.. still does not blink. His eyes fixate back on mine.
"I'm on my way to New Jersey this morning . Leaving on the bridge from Queens..." he says matter of fact, as his eyes leave mine and look straight back at the road.
"Am I going with you dad? Are we going somewhere?" I ask calmly, feeling like a hostage negotiator. I let the words roll off my tongue so carefully, not to show any aggression towards him.
The energy has changed and he feels very.. fragile. My nails are digging now into my legs... I am not sure what he is doing or where he is going with this.
He chuckles in an unstable way, his eyes narrowing as he looks back in the mirror at me... "They’re always havin’ a good time down on the shore... Those Lavalette women think the world of me." he brags.
"uhuh..okay.. well.. maybe you can just drop me off right here up ahead.. and I can just get a cab back home. I will be fine."
"Lord" he bolts out with a belly full of anger.
Eyes wide open and stunned, I am watching the back of his head start to turn towards his window and look out... He continues but he is seemingly talking to himself and not acknowledging what I said at all.
" I'm trying to make a living and doing the best I can ---" he says half laughing with rage.
"And when it's time for leaving...I hope you'll understand"...
Now I'm scared. This doesn't feel right.
He looks on ahead, foot pressing down the pedal as he picks up speed. Faster. Faster. The motion terrifies me, as I cling to the seat and lean hard back against the leather.
I'm not belted down at all. There are no straps back here. I am pressing my feet down and locking my body up against the back. I look forward at the mirror, searching to meet his eyes again.
But he isn't looking my way. He just keeps ramping up the speed as we rush down the highway.
Loud static fills the car again along with the howling wind as we keep increasing speed down the road. I can't even open the door and jump out. I have to hold tight and brace myself for whatever happens next. I want to scream but I cannot get the strength to have any noise leave my throat.
His left hand stays gripping the wheel and his right fist punches the dash again to even out the radio feed. His smash sends a vibration right through me. I close my eyes and can only focus on the sound of the wind whooshing through the back seat as we fly down the road.
"When it's time to leave, I hope you'll understand.." he sings with in melody, the sound of the guitar building up behind his voice.
"I was born a ramblin' man"...
A sharp pain in the back of my neck jolts my spine. My left arm instinctively reaching up to rub the tension. My heart is racing and I am drenched in sweat.
.....What the Fuc* I'm about to scream in horror, eyes so tight as I tilt my head up to the roof. All of a sudden the fast motion stops, like a wild ride winding down at a theme park.. the noises fade gradually down to a low hum.. a cool breeze hits my jaw and arm as I calm my body and tilt my head back down straight... Open your eyes, my body whispers.
I look out past the dash and we are driving at normal speed, calmly passing a field of trees and wide-open grass field. I squint and look out the left half cranked down window... we are in the countryside and it's so beautiful outside.
Lime green glowing eyes meet mine back in the rearview mirror, smiling at me so warmly.
"Listen" he says. His voice so smooth and loving.
"I'm trying to make a living and doing the best I can"...
The static lightly crinkles between guitar chords being strung...
The sweet spring breeze is blowing gently on my face as we wander down the lime green horizon.
A fiction tale with real details about my schizophrenic father. A creative depiction of PTSD flashbacks about our time together and how I capture his diluted sense of self. These are moments never shared before he finally left my life and his own grasp of reality. This song Allman Brothers Band "Ramblin' Man" is one of his favorites and a big TRIGGER for me. I wanted to repurpose it into creative writing as a healing tool. As an adult of addicts with mental illnesses that cannot be reversed, I am learning how to heal and feel through the trauma I experienced before finally going no contact at 27 from both of my parents. Writing is a tool for healing and personal growth that I really enjoy. Thank you for reading! - Jean Grey
Mental health blogger, content creator, and creative writer. I write about trauma, mental health, and holistic wellness to empower other trauma survivors. Follow my blogs @Jadedsaviorblog @Startthrivingnotsurviving linktr.ee/jeangrey888