Not This Night

I wanted to know what it was like to have complete power.  I went out one rainy night.  I snuck out into the cloudy black and walked onto a highway.  I took my shoes off, walked to the middle of the road and I stood and watched and waited.  I danced while I waited.  I opened my mouth and let the cold water pour in and run over my face and through my hair.  When I didn’t think my hair was getting wet enough fast enough I helped it along with my fingers.

I was happy to constantly pull my wet nightdress from my body only to watch it stick again and again.

Finally, I saw lights in the distance.  I knew there would be two exits before he reached me, but I had hope he wouldn’t go off.  He got closer and closer.  I felt myself wanting to smile, but I held back knowing there was still time for him to get off.  Then I saw more.  It wasn’t just the one car, it was several all at the same time.  It was a Godsend.  I couldn’t help it, I had to laugh and jump up and down and splash the dirty water on the pavement.

The response was everything I’d hoped it would be.  They swerved to avoid hitting me.  Mad and cussing at me, they tried their hardest not to hit me, knowing that if they did it wouldn’t be their fault, but no one wants to hit another person even if she is wrong for being out there.  No one wants to hit another person.  They definitely don’t want to hit a 13 year old in her pajamas.

So they continued to act as if God would visit them with his wrath if they so much as came close to ending my life, while I continued to dance and sing to myself, not the least bit afraid.  All I could think, as I watched people get in near accidents and almost run their cars off the road and into the wall, was, ” I did this.  This is happening because of me.  I can control people’s emotions just by being some place I’m not expected to be.”  I was fascinated.

Then I heard a noise.  Like a train it was to me.  I looked up and saw a big truck and a car right next to it. The vibrations on the bottom of my feet made me laugh more.  “What will they do?” I wondered.  Neither can turn, but they won’t be able to stop fast enough to keep from hitting me.  I calmly walked to the white faded line and as I did they both passed me.  I stood between them, the wind rushing through my hair so fast I thought it would know the rain out of it only to be replaced by the heavy, muddy mist that sprang to my face.  I closed my eyes and breathed in the mist as the vehicles drove by.  For a moment I dreamed I was Superman.  Soon I didn’t hear the scream of any tires or the furiousness of any horns; I just saw me and I was important; I was worth saving, but I saved the world.

I didn’t have shoes anymore, they’d been run over, and so I had to walk back home bare foot through the rain and mud and rocks of the valley below the highway.  I walked home completely ignoring the pain in my feet from being stabbed with twigs and cut on broken bottles.  I climbed the trellis on the side of the house and snuck back into my room where I was surprised to see my father waiting for me with the antennae he liked to beat us with.  The fury in his eyes made him seem big and mean as Satan.  It usually takes me ten steps to walk from my door to the window.  He did it in two.

In no time I had slashes on my face and hands, my arms and my back much like the ones I already have. It was hard, that antenna: a hard, silver mystery. Shall I be thankful for the reception on the TV, or hateful for the marks I’ll carry for years?

After he was done I crawled back into my bed in wet, dirty pajamas and smiled.  I refused to let him ruin this night.  Not this one.

***

*From Color in the Dark. Get the whole book here.***

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