Stop the car


ago
2 min
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I tiptoed out of the car, immediately felt the force of frigid air against my face, heard the gravel crunch beneath my shoes. It was just me, the sound of my shifting footsteps, and a vast, dark emptiness that stretched for eternity.
The only thing delineating the outline of the horizon, what kept me grounded in the midst of nothing, was the faint silver lights of the stars. So I looked up. And the longer I stared, the more I saw. Infinite, forever. I let space encompass me, succumbing to the incubated feeling I get when I sink the bottom of a pool. I turned in my place, as if my nose was pulled by a string that each newly spotted star tugged upon, craning my head at every possible angle to see if I could find the beginning of where the expanse lay. But there was none. It was endless and hollow and terrifying. But it wasn’t as others sometimes described it; as something suspicious, that each star was merely a pencil-poked air hole that let us tiny, insignificant creatures breathe. No, it felt unsettlingly real. As real and undeniable as the tears running down my cheeks. I knew the nighttime was farther than I’d ever be able to reach, but as I lifted my invisible hand to the sky I felt like if only I were a little bit taller, I’d be able to grab one of those twinkling lights and pull it close. But I wasn't. So I stood in that vast darkness, the universe towering above me, too big to comprehend, too far to understand. And I shrunk against the dirt, and the mountains, and the wind that came from nowhere, letting my mind dance on the tight-rope that hesitantly connected my soul to the great unknown.
The chattering of my teeth, the cloth of my jacket snug against my gradually numbing skin, clipped my consciousness back to earth. I saw my breath swirling into clouds, felt the blood pulsing through my fingers, my toes struggling to find solace from the wind through the fragile wrap of my shoes. I got back into the car, my family still unbothered, sound asleep, as if I hadn’t just left the earth, screamed for a sign, felt my soul leave my body and soar beyond the horizon.
My extremities gave into the heat, exhaled against the stillness. But it was too dark, too quiet, too confining. My heart already missed her, the universe who showed herself so clearly that night. So curled up in my leather seat, I pressed my body against the window, craned my head to see as far into the beyond as the roof would let my eyes scan. Just within range, I once again made eye contact with the edge of the stars.
In a few hours, my family would awaken to continue to drive. The sun would rise again and cast a blanket of light over my window to the beyond. But for now, I, we, were alone. I held my gaze, as if to convince the universe that I wouldn’t betray her for making herself so vulnerable to me. Made her promise she wouldn't disappear. Let her know I hadn’t left, that I would never leave. I vowed to carry the memory of our precious time together, despite the worldly barrier that would certainly come between us in the morning.
9

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