I saw it in the rearview mirror. Just a flash, a pop of reflected sunlight. But something made me stop and turn around.

It was about here, wasn’t it? Right by this fence line? No. Further down.

I turned off the radio and cranked down the window. The heavy heat barreled inside, a line of sweat beaded up under my bottom lip.

I parked the car and got out, dust settling on my shoes. I could taste it.

The mirror hung upside down from a rusty bit of barbed wire strangling a tree. A carved wooden handle with chipped red paint that flaked away as I touched it. The wire didn’t want to let go. But I persisted.

When I looked into the mirror, I saw no reflection.

I saw my mother, as she must have been before I was born. Long dark hair, big earrings. Smile big as day. She cradled and patted her belly, laughed and sang with her eyes almost closed.

I saw all of it next, a lifetime in a moment, lit with gold, each second melting into the next. Toddling baby, ABC’s, sleepovers, schoolmates, heartaches and bliss. Day jobs and daydreams, love and loss.

And then I saw a highway, a fence line, a tree. My fingers covered in flakes of red paint. The air purple and dim.

I saw a truck speed by and push my hair into my eyes. I saw a diner, a room rented for the night.

The scene jumped from then on, missing frames, sharp and angled. Linear but no longer smooth.

I saw people I didn’t know. I watched myself laugh and cry. I saw moments that weren’t mine yet, and felt them too.

A thick, dense emotion that I couldn’t even name saturated me inside and out. It was so big, too big for me then, I wasn’t ready to hold it. It wasn’t mine yet.

So, I closed my eyes and hung up the mirror, gave it back to the wire strangling the tree. I brushed the red paint from my fingers.

A truck sped by and my hair got in my eyes.

I drove to a diner just down the highway. A place I’d never been to but remembered somehow.

And I rented a room for the night.

Dirt Road and Tree

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *