On a Monday two weeks ago I started off into an autumn afternoon that glowed in the golden light of the sun. Before long, rough and ragged clouds rose ahead of me. They were iron-gray, deep and dark, like waves on the surface of an angry sea. Moving at seventy miles an hour, I began to catch up with them. Soon there will be rain, I thought. I stopped at a gas station for a drink. The yellowing leaves of a cottonwood tree growing next to the parking lot caught on their undersides the still golden glow of a sun now low in the sky. And soon there was rain.
The sun plunged behind the horizon and the world became suddenly very dark. It shrank away to wet ribbons of road ahead of me, cars on both sides, and a few places lit as in a dream by meager, washed-out lights along the highway. At first there was light rain, then heavy and heavier still--dark and rain and a lonely road as I came into the hills. Light from a pair of headlights coming from the other direction angled away from the road and momentarily into the sky. Sparks flew like a sawblade against a nail. A car had gone off the road and into the median, wrecking against posts and cables in the grass. I stopped and waited for traffic to tear by in my two lanes. Then I ran across the rainy road and stood in the wet grass, a narrow and filled drainage ditch and three steel cables separating me from the other car. A man came out the passenger's side door. He was alone and okay and had already called for someone. I asked again if he was okay. He said yes and I told him I would go. I wasn't exactly in a safe situation myself and felt relieved to be back in my own car and on the move again. A couple of miles down the road, I saw a strange, phantom-like figure walking along the road with no obvious origin or destination. This faceless and almost headless figure was clothed in pale yellow coveralls and what looked like a low hood of some kind. In a second, the figure was behind me and gone into the mysterious and irretrievable past.
I had gone home on August 20. Four days later my dad died. On a night a couple of weeks later I dreamed that my dad, though stooped, was walking without his walker. I stood wordless and watched at a distance. He was walking towards a car. My mom was in the driver's seat. She was waiting for him--has been waiting for him these fifteen years. He got in and without a word they drove away together. They are together again.
I spent several weeks there. Now I am here, but writing seems more than I would like to take on right now. If it's okay with you, I would rather just take a break and be back with you again later, I hope before the end of the year.
Copyright 2020 Terence E. Hanley