somewhere on the east coast. with my dad. we’re in an empty parking lot. full of cars. but no people. where are the people?
across the parking lot. i see an entrance. the building is dark, open, and cold. lights flickering. i hear sirens in the distance. chaos. but thats in the distance. i am safe here. we enter. through the sliding door. past the security guard. he is friendly. has he been expecting us?
the building is a grocery store. we are here to get groceries. we are safe at the grocery store. i know its temporary. a new threat pops up on my radar as i enter each aisle. my amygdala is wide awake. preparing my body for whatever awaits me. each corner i turn, a new danger. looming over my shoulders. they’re watching me. its only a matter of time before they reveal themselves. from behind their computer screens. snatching me up. laughing at me cause i thought i had them fooled. dragging me away from my dad. we were only here to buy groceries.
where’s the kale?
be cool. i push my cart through the dark. pretending to grab things. pretending to be calm. pretending to shuffle through the shelves looking for peppermint tea which i ran out of yesterday. pretending i don’t know.
time to check out i guess. nobody is working the cash register. only guards at the front door. do we even have to pay? i wiz by the empty registers.
out the door i go. with my free groceries. looking out across the parking lot. the air is dry. sirens still buzzing. away from me. distant chaos. piercing through my ears. the noise travels deep into the part of my brain that stores abandoned responsibility.
i look behind me. a storm cloud. dark. grey. almost black. it’s beautiful. i am not afraid. I’m comforted by it. nostalgia. flashbacks of my childhood.
tv chatter in the background. talking heads. telling us to go to the basement and stay away from windows. looking up at the clouds. i feel the wind start to pick up. goosebumps. smelling the wet pavement. pitter patters in the distance. excitement building. i’m standing on the back porch with my sisters waiting for it to pour. in swimsuits and goggles.
in front of me, the sky is brown. ugly. dirty. polluted. that must be new jersey. i hope the storm moves in that direction. cleansing the sky. washing away all the ugly. pushing out the filth. restoring it to its original condition. free from pollution. free from harmful toxins. free from humanity.
i walk across the parking lot. toward the brown sky. where i need to be. i’m on top of a hill. no, a bluff. something in between. i have to get to the road at the bottom. i surf down the hill. dust clouds following behind me. rocks crumbling. just like that day at the beach in san francisco. only this time, freedom was not waiting for me at the bottom.
a dirt road. i look to my left. a dusty corvette. parked. playing music. to my right, my blue VW beetle. and Eunys. i dance in front of the corvette. a friendly hello. i don’t want them to view me as a threat. i am harmless. it works. the corvette moves along with no trouble.
but now i am stranded. how am i gonna get anywhere? Eunys is working on my comatose car. loading up the secret compartments beneath the vehicle. taking it apart to make room. preparing for our journey. the tires are cracked. where are we gonna go with all this stuff if the wheels don’t work? i’ll go up the road and look for help. answers.
a stranger stands in his yard. in a daze. looking up at the sky. in denial. like me.
fake small talk. shallow conversation. half ass attempt at human connection. it feels obligatory. we talk about the weather. we are both uninterested. he only stands outside to keep people like me away. I feel alone. longing for something. longing for home. onward.
soon it will be dark. i think I’m being followed. twigs cracking behind me. i see the creatures. they are galloping alongside my path. whizzing around me. taunting me. circling. they are much bigger than me. horse like. but larger. their bodies are massive. faces look like baby pigs with huge teeth. i am outnumbered. they’re closing in. i should be terrified.
the fat one stops in front of me and looks me dead in the eye. i am frozen. why am i not terrified? the creature moves in. i smell its breath. damp. drooley. it has the mouth of a horse. with big chunky teeth. squishy hairy lips. i wanna touch them. i reach my hand out. they are so soft. fuzzy. the creature leans its head toward mine. i rub my face against it. like a pillow. i am deeply comforted. my new friend smiles. big, wide, and ugly.
i feel safe. i feel protected. i feel loved. i feel home.