by: Reggie Barnes (Copyright © 2011)
After I finished it I threw the empty bottle in some shrubbery and sat in my car with my friend’s bottle and my coat lying next to me. Quickly, I started my engine and headed for home. Shortly afterwards, I glanced at my watch then looked to the horizon of trees. Dawn would be coming soon.
The curves were monstrous in the darkness and it took all I had just to stay awake. Finally, I turned on some music to try to liven myself up a little. Mozart; Symphony no. forty in G minor – Molto Allegro! – Wrong move. Within the first sweep of the violin’s, “Du-du-da du-du-da du-du-da-di,” I was fading fast. The road was coming at me through slits in my closed eyelids. Suddenly, I saw a shadow and something gleaming from within it in the middle of the road. My heart raced as my eyes sprang open. Instinct took over and I cut my vehicle hard to the left while simultaneously hitting the brakes. The car skid tail end to the right, across the centerline and onto the gravel, then to a stop. My eyes were wide open the entire time though I didn’t see a thing. The engine was still running along with the violins and I’m sure, had I looked, my face was as pale as the moon. I looked to the road to see what had awakened me but saw nothing. Slowly I opened my door and stepped out of the car. To my left stood the outline of murmuring witnesses to the event – the oaks and the pines. To my right lay the city in a dark hazy light.
A few deep breaths were what I needed – and took. Around the front of the car I ambled and saw the guardrail of the road was crumpled against the right side of my car. I had come about a full 180 degrees. A little faster and I could have been the new Mt. Rushmore.
Back around the car I went and saw Francis’ beer and my coat on the passenger floor. I leaned through the open doorway, reached past the coat and grabbed the beer.
“This is for you Francis,” I said as I sat in the driver’s seat and opened the top. Again it was cool and soothing and I sighed deeply.
Then it happened. I began to consider the puzzling question that was asked of me only moments before; “Am I happy with my life?” Almost in a trance, I looked over at the city where the sun would soon be rising and felt my feet taking me towards the railing that had been my savior. The metropolis looked peaceful from where I stood near the foot mountain… though I knew better. It was a place of anything and everything. Whatever your mortal heart desired could be had in that city.
I sipped at Francis’ beer.
One of the midsize buildings near the center of the city was where I worked. Before that night I had thought my job to be quite pleasing. Suddenly, it was quite sterile. It paid well, but pay doesn’t make you complete.
I sipped at the beer.
My savior was now supporting me as I sat hunched over. My eyes were fixed to a row of condominiums just to the left of the bay. That’s where Connie lived. All my life I dreamed of someone like her. Now that I had her, I wasn’t sure she was who I needed in my life, or even wanted. How could I tell her that? How could I tell her that I wasn’t sure?
I sipped at the beer and my eyes drifted to my home – Dawn broke.
“That’s not the home of a happy man,” I said. “That’s the home of someone who doesn’t like his life.”
With a final gulp, Francis’ beer was gone and so was the man I once knew. My savior had suddenly become my enemy and I wished that I had come to rest at the bottom of the cirque below. With the empty bottle in my hand I leaned over the rail and let it drop. It took around four seconds before it shattered, becoming part of the countryside. With the question lying broken below, I answered, “No, Francis, I’m not happy with my life.”
It was a long walk home. With my coat slung over my shoulder I strolled and whistled a light tune. My car still hugged the railing with the driver’s door open. I didn’t care… this was a new me. The sun was magnificent as it rose and breathed over the city, bathing it with its warmth. The trees were alive with birdsong and dew covered leaves shimmering in the early morning light. I was happy now; facing an unknown world. My pace quickened as I entered the city limits.