The Outer Reaches

fiction

 

“Who in this bowling alley bowled the sun?

Who made it always when it rises set:

To go at once both down, and up to get?” – Edward Taylor (1645-1729)

 

The desert sky is full of stars.

As the two drive in the big car through the night, they don’t say much to each other.

It had been a hot day, hotter than the average of the days temperatures during the last few weeks, and they had spent it drinking cold lemon shandy and swimming in the apartment complex pool.

Note Cards, held on the fridge by small magnets, saved for later works, read:

 

Take the desert and make it beautiful.

Take the names and give them weight.

 

They had been sitting at home during the late afternoon, bored, drinking, thinking about nothing much.

The oppressive heat had held them down and evaporated away any shred of possible conversation. What could have been in those lucid and consequential moments.

On the road, they are young and life is long and the Spanish on the radio in the car is going on about the end of time. The images of remembered moments, as if chronicled in some dusty coffee table book, reflect off of the rear view mirror, like the lights of cars passing by. The book closes and the specter goes, receding into darkness, like taillights moving further and further away.

Deep down, they each hold onto a feeling which tells them they could drive until the wheels fall off. Until the dark welcomes them, surrounds them, becomes them.

 

“Most of it is trash,” he says, looking over to her. “But some of it, … , some of it is really good.”

She thinks about this and squints and then looks at him.

“Baby,” and then a slight pause, thinking about the next words, taking joy in the splendid little moment.

“Let’s drive until the wheels fall off.”

He laughs.

“I don’t think that it could be any other way.”

 

The depth of what they are straining to reveal is hinted at in gestures, in songs, in the speed that the car maintains on the highway.

 

“Sometimes I think about it all,” she says, “and, it’s overwhelming.”

He bites his lip, thinking, and then adds, “It gets me too love, but what do we do? What can we do?”

“I don’t know” she says.

Neither of them adds any more to this thought.

 

They each understand that whatever decisions they make, whether it’s together, or alone, that in the end they are still alone. The odds do not work in their favor.

They drive West, out of Tucson, some miles up the hills, and stop near the side of the road and then turn off the car and get out and sit on the hood.

In the distance, coyotes talk with across the darkness of the landscape.

Together, they observe the sky above them, standing in stark contrast to the locus of electric city lights in the valley below. The city, methodical and tough, becomes one with everything and the unknown. No other cars pass by.

 

“What do you want to do?” he asks, after some time.

‘’We could get pizza,” she says.

“That would be perfect.”

 

“Then we can go to the Red Room,” she says.

“I like that place.”

“Me too.”

 

They sit on the hood of the car for a little while longer, feeling small, like the stillness of a quiet corner of a room, patiently waiting out the ordinary moments passing by.

How sweet is life now, in their corner of the universe?

Then, without a word to one another, they each quietly stand and make their way back into the car and drive into town.

The coyotes keep up their chatter.

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