Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rural Road

The car is parked along the dirt shoulder of a faded asphalt two-lane highway. Cut through a narrow valley, the road is surrounded by trees that rise up into squat hills that eventually form jagged mountains.
We sit sandwiched between a forest comprised mostly of evergreens, though they are interspersed with deciduous trees that have started to turn with the approach of winter.
A spectacle of red, orange and yellow are beautifully mixed with the constant green of the pines. The canopy of foliage is so thick that on the ground the light between the tree trunks is almost black even though there is still a bit of daylight left.  The yellow of the changing leaves matches the dotted lines dividing the highway.
The forest surrounding us is thick, unpunctuated by any houses or roads, though I can smell the unmistakable scent of burning logs in a fireplace somewhere in the distance, the scent of memories wafts in even though the windows of the car are closed tight.
There are no street lamps or the bright double headlights of an approaching car in the coming twilight.  Just stillness all around. The sky is a constantly fading blue without a single cloud and the first glimmering star of the night is straight ahead and billions of miles away. The frosty air of deep fall seeps in through the glass windows and I keep my hands buried in the pockets of my fur-lined corduroy jacket.
The faded light of the day outside has covered the interior of the car in a shadow of dim light. The three people in the back seat are blurred shadows without distinct shapes and their silence is heavy. 
Beside me in the passenger seat is a woman with short blond hair and a chiseled chin that looks like stone, she could easily be mistaken for a petite man given the angles of her face.
A few birds silhouetted in black fly over the highway and towards the mountain peak to the left of the car. They are too far away to hear their cries. 
A key ring with seven copper keys is hanging from the ignition.  The orange engine light is bright on the dashboard, as is the car’s temperature level, which is marked at “H.”
I can feel the cold of the air outside through my thin black jeans. There is a ticking sound that comes from the engine in intervals. The road ahead moves up a gently rising hill and then peaks, making what lays ahead a complete mystery.