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A Perfectly Lovely Ride

It’s a perfectly lovely night to go for a drive. The air is cool outside, which is a relief after such a hot day. Back home is still full of the air from the late afternoon heat; the cool night air won’t seep in until three, four in the morning. In my car, speeding down the freeway, the air gushes in and I’m soaking it up. Right now it’s wonderful, but I have work in the morning, so I’ll need to be home before three or four in the morning, and the cool I’m enjoying now will make the stifling heat of my bedroom that much worse when I return. More importantly though—at least for right now—right now, it’s wonderful.

But hold on a tick— I don’t remember starting the car. I was in my underwear, sitting on the couch beneath the ceiling fan, just sweating and hating life. I stepped outside and it was nice, so I sat on the porch, still in my underwear—it was late so no one would see anything—and life was great. Then the mosquitos started eating me. That’s when I decided to go for a ride. But I don’t remember going back inside and getting my keys, or getting dressed, (I’m in shorts and a t-shirt now), and I don’t remember starting the car….

It’s quiet outside— it’s quite inside too. It doesn’t sound like the engine’s running. I can’t even hear the tires turning over the pavement. The only sound is the wind whistling by, like I’m falling. The ride is smooth, too— too smooth. The speedometer, tachometer, engine temperature gauge, and fuel gauge all read zero, and the dash isn’t lit up. I feel for the key in the ignition, but there’s nothing there.

Now I see everything with fresh eyes. The road is dark out ahead of me. It’s because my headlights aren’t on, but it’s not only that. The streetlights aren’t lit, and there are no headlights from the oncoming traffic, no headlights in my mirrors, no taillights from the traffic ahead of me. I ease up on the gas, but nothing happens. I take my foot off the gas completely, but I don’t slow down a bit. I touch the brakes and nothing— I press a little harder, but still nothing— I stomp on the pedal, putting it all the way to the floor, but nothing happens. I turn the steering wheel this way and that, but it makes no difference. I pull the parking break. None of it makes a difference. Nothing I do makes a difference. I’m not in control.

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