I’m tired. Always tired. But this is the weariness that says I should be in bed, preparing for actual sleep.
Instead, I’m nearly home, and now aware I could have turned back a little earlier.
The reflectors form little stars now, the lines weave left and right in their dance across the windscreen. The car rocks and bumps, but not uncomfortably. I’ve been here long enough that I’m part of it. It tells me I’m getting somewhere.
And yet I’m not.
Have you prayed about it?
Sometimes He doesn’t answer me straight away. Sometimes He seems to order my thoughts so I discover things myself. Sometimes He speaks directly, sometimes He lets me find my own way. I didn’t give Him time tonight, so it’s my way, or not until tomorrow.
I sat out the front with the engine idling for minutes, well past the polite time where I could explain it as setting the heater, or a map search on the phone. The awareness that I was staring instead of thinking became the dominant thought, and then the only thought.
I hadn’t wanted to go for a walk; it’s not my thing, of that I’m sure. So many things are not –my thing-. So I sit here, staring at the bit where the lights overlap, off in the mid-distance. There’s nothing there that helps me know where I’m going now, let alone what my thing is.
I put it in gear and roll away, praying for an idea to come before the intersection down there, but there’s nothing. Almost on a whim, I go right, and immediately it feels good to have some direction. At the roundabout I swing left, up into the darkness.
The corners reveal their secrets in turn, like some old magician too bored to make something of it. The houses have different coloured lights, but all yellow in measures. The wooden poles make different noises as I go past, and all the fences reflect the ticks and hum of the car and the hiss of tyres on tarmac.
Friday nights are for a long meal, laughter, smiles, a contentment in your chest, music and wine. Not this nothing. There had been something there in that meeting point of the headlights, but I couldn’t see it. Just the thought that I wasn’t looking at anything, that I wasn’t thinking.
The tarmac runs out, and the gravel starts out hard-packed and smooth. The car shifts a little with each turn, but obeys. There’s no need to push tonight, I know I’m not alert enough. Trees line the fences left and right, and occasionally squeeze into the road, like a belt done up too tight. There’s so little margin here, and I realise I’m sitting quite upright. Despite my malaise, I’m well awake.
Malaise. Far too much word for such a nothing feeling.
Up and down the hills the ridges come and go, doing their best to shake things loose. The car skates across, and I’m thinking of how it used to be, in a horse and carriage. Maybe out here that never happened, maybe this road has no history, but is just an unloved child of a council with lots of roads and not enough funds.
Do you feel like you’re depressed?
I don’t think so. I imagine that would feel – more. Bigger. Deeper.
This is…flat. Tired. Unfocussed. Unsatisfied. I don’t know.
What do you think?
I think you’re flat. And tired. We can try to talk about it some more.
It’s a big grey roo, over on the left. Big roo.
He shifts himself on his tail, turning away, and then after a thought, he lopes off into the black. Safe bounding, Mr Roo. Maybe I’ll see you later.
The gravel turns back into tarmac, and the sign and painted lines loom up.
I study the intersection, trying to place it. Where have I come out?
Left seems the way to go; like I haven’t finished the path I started back at the roundabout. There’s no traffic coming from the right, so I pull out. There never is, not at this time, not out here.
A place to sit and read with a drink would be good. I see an ATM, and pull over to get some cash. Under the streetlight the car’s tailgate is powdered in faded yellow; the flanks are all harsh contrast, light and shade.
It’s later than I thought and nothing is open, save for half-lit places with one guy putting seats up on tables. New plan required.
The train line by the road runs out along with my original plan, such as it was, and this roundabout has three choices. Time to circle back, so I turn right. This road sweeps up and opens out a bit, so I push along a little more.
We’d continued talking. She’s good with words, able to speak what she’s feeling. Able to know what she’s feeling to begin with. Soon I take something meant generally to be specific, and now I’m attacking her with my simple words about my feelings.
I could, but there’s not much point when you’re in this mood. Perhaps you should go for a walk?
The rabbit shouldn’t have been in the road. That’s a stupid place to be, there’s nothing to eat there. It sees me coming, and runs directly under the wheel.
God Damn It.
I pull over just up the road, half on the grass, half still on the road. There’s no point going back, I felt it through the steering.
I shout at the wheel, at the gauges, at the windscreen; it’s something guttural, just a noise, completely unshaped. My hands are squeezing nothingness tight.
I get out and walk around the car twice, like I’m looking for something I dropped earlier, but I’m just staring off in the distance again.
The moonlight makes everything that blue shade of grey. I know exactly where I am, but I still can’t see anything, there’s still this thought of it all being incomplete. No answers, no strength in any of these directions.
I don’t even think of shouting at God. Now He’ll give me an answer, but I don’t want it. That would inconvenience the rabbit. I’m resigned to the nothing, the blindness in the middle distance, and the indistinct shapes of the grey moonlight.
She’s always been better at this stuff than me. She knows where she wants to be, how she gets there. She wants me there with her, I know that. I’m not jealous.
I wish I knew what it is that’s preventing all this becoming music and wine.
I don’t care that I don’t have a big life vision; I’m happy to go along with hers, but I want to enjoy the ride. Even if it only mostly made sense.
Even this, the drive, it’s meant to be cathartic, to flush everything through. Instead I’ve killed a suicidal rabbit, and I can’t see anything in the overlap of the headlights.
The car basically drives itself back, like the action of clutch, lever and throttle comes built in with breathing. There’s a rhythm to these roads that’s pleasing.
Up in front a car pulls out of the restaurant on the corner, an old couple pointing their noses to home. Slowly up the hill they go, and now I’m right behind their bootlid, clear in the overlap.
The detail of the vines in the moonlight is suddenly there, and I can see straight into the wedgy café on the right. It’s all lit up, but deserted.
I pull in, and switch off the engine. I can see her light on, and her shape in bed through the drapes. She’s waiting. Maybe we’ll talk, but she’ll hold me either way.
Friday night is for a long meal, laughter, music and wine. I wish I knew what I wanted.