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Back Roads

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Knuckles are white around the steering wheel; tensing and releasing, trying to breathe. It barely works.

There are too many feelings to distinguish between but she knows none of them are good. They’re never good. Not when they come to this.

 x
The stars are hidden behind a thick layer of smog and she hates the city even more for it. The least the universe could do is make her feel a little less alone, just a little.
 x
Her foot presses down a little harder and there’s a lump in her throat. The windows are all rolled down and her hair whips around, licking every inch of her face, her neck. She can feel her heart ever so present in her chest and she just wants to forget she’s even human. How much easier would that be, she thinks.
 x
The wheels straddle the yellow lines as if to try to take up more space. She can’t stand to be so alone, but she can’t go back to that city. To that smoke-ridden husk of a city.
 x
Further and further away down the winding roads surrounded only by wide space and far-off mountains. She doesn’t know how much time has passed and she doesn’t know how fast she drove, but she found a place where stars peeked through the haze. Besides the headlights, she could barely see anything. She parks on the side of the road and lies down, hair curling around the grass.
 x
She was staring up into the inky sky with those stars so far away, finally being able to feel small enough to make everything else feel even smaller. The few trees around shuddered in the wind and it brought her out of her head. It made her heart seem not so loud.
 x
Fingers slipped through the grass to grip the earth beneath it. So far away from things so normal, so natural, and everyone wonders why they feel so out of place. Her eyes close and she breathes deeply, almost trying to suck in outer-space. Just to fill her veins with the stars she craves. To keep just a little bit of reality in the spaces between her bones.
 x
In this dark night, in this moment where she can feel not so hopeless, she thinks she should become a shooting star. See so much without being tied down, with enough speed to not feel anything but exhilaration.
 x
Pushing herself up from the ground, she thinks she might as well try. So her feet strike the earth beneath her and she runs. She runs until her lungs burn and she thinks maybe this is it. Maybe this is her burning just like a shooting star. She doesn’t stop until tears are flowing from her eyes and her legs give out. She doesn’t know how she manages to gasp and sob at the same time, but she does.
 x
That night, under the stars and the sliver of moon, she sleeps and she dreams of being a shooting star.
And in that night, she is.
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