My inbox filled. Phone calls from my mother went unreturned. The showcase of Japanese knives kept replaying on the shopping channel. My thumb was sore from scrolling. I started daydreaming about my girlfriend dying in a tragic accident, how I would proudly wear my sorrow even as a deep relief crawled over me. I was sick. Every day I seemed to be advancing in a game I couldn’t win. I needed to leave. I remembered my childhood. Jack London. Gary Paulsen. Boy’s Life magazine. I knew what to do.
By the time I managed to get out of the city it was nearly dusk. The local NPR affiliate was playing reruns of the shows that made my bones tired. On the highway cars telegraphed across the asphalt like ants going back and forth to some spoiled picnic. They seemed to be conspiring in some great mystery, filled with a pageantry of purpose. After sunset light splashed up from the edge of the earth staining the sky orange and pink. I thought of how the bare walls of my bedroom lit up after a late night notification, the same disembodied glow, the same following darkness. In the gloaming a program called Hearts of Space began playing and my loneliness was swallowed by a greater feeling of emptiness and disconnectedness from all things. I wondered if there was a word for that feeling, and if so, who first uttered it. I was alone in the night—swathed in construction-paper black. My headlights were like children’s scissors cutting through the dark. It comforted me to think of them as eyes.
I am not sure when it happened. I don’t remember getting off the highway. The rhythmic clicking of the hazard lights the only sound outside of my breathing. I must have been there fifteen minutes, gripping the wheel in the center of a fallow field, my tire tracks bisecting the furrowed earth. The lines of dirt had no origin and no end, the pulsing sphere of illumination from my car ceding to a greater beyond. I had arrived.
I stepped out into the absolute of night, my breath rising like shower steam. I felt small. This both comforting and terrifying. There were stars I’d forgotten or never known, all gleaming like polished tantō on the windshield. I stood there awhile, head craned towards the heavens, watching vapor escape my body. I thought about cutting off my eyelids to let the stars in while I slept. I thought about walls. Ceilings. Windows that face walls. I wanted to dream of a conversation. I wanted to talk to someone who wasn’t trying to tell me what to do. I wanted meaning. A nothingness greater than my nothingness. All I could hear was the clicks. My breath.
David Joez Villaverde is a Peruvian American multidisciplinary artist with forthcoming work in Dream Pop Press, Fanzine, Mortar Magazine, formercactus, and Crab Fat Magazine. He has recently published work in Occulum, Wigleaf, 100 Word Short Story, and Cheap Pop. He is a former editor of the After Happy Hour Review. He resides in Detroit and can be found at schadenfreudeanslip.com or on Twitter @academicjuggalo.
Image: Stéphane Delval