A short story.

It was dark. Only the eerie blue flicker of the television from the next room over shed intermittent light into the bedroom. The low hum of the radiator and buzzing of cars from outside were interrupted by a violent rustling of sheets from the bed. Brenon woke up in a cold sweat, looked quickly about the room and let out a grim sigh. He had hardly been able to sleep at all in the last two months and his persona reflected it perfectly. Any time he could sleep he was stricken by the most horrible nightmares. It had been the longest two months of his life. Every day was another reason he didn’t want to leave his apartment. The fact that he was almost getting used to his pseudo-depression said a lot about who he was.

He gathered his thoughts and sat up on the edge of the bed. The alarm clock to his left read 4:11 AM. He knew he had to get out before he went stir-crazy in his one bedroom apartment. Only in these two months had it felt lonelier than ever. Brenon moved towards the mirror hanging on the wall, almost tripping over a pile of dirty clothes on the ground from the previous week. The image in the mirror disgusted him: the long, greasy hair; the dull brown eyes; the unshaven face; the small imperfections that never seemed to go away. Slowly moving back and forth, he used the crack in the mirror to hide the scar in the reflection; he had mysteriously woken up with it a few nights ago. Just like the scar, everything else at this point in his life was just as much a mystery. Just like the scar, he tried his best to ignore it; though, he knew others could see it. A tear would’ve rolled down his eyes at this very instant had he not blinked furiously and quickly looked away in self-disgust.

Brenon made his way into the other room, slowly regaining his composure with each slow step he took. He reached for his leather jacket from the chair…

“Hey – man – where are you going,” called a voice from someone sprawled out on the couch in front of the TV.

“Huh,” Brenon replied cautiously. He wasn’t sure who it was in his apartment, but he started to remember. “Oh,” he continued alas, “I’m just going out for a drive, be back in a little while. Keep an eye on the apartment for me, ok Alex?”

No reply.

He pulled his jacket from the chair and grabbed his keys from the table. With a loud clang they slipped out of his hands and onto the tile floor. As he knelt down to pick them up he looked carefully. BRENON was written neatly on across in bright pink letters. It always embarrassed him to walk around with his name in pink, but he didn’t have anything else to replace it with.

Brenon meekly blushed to himself and turned it over to try and ignore it. Held in the other side of the cheap plastic key chain was a small picture of him and his ex girlfriend. Just at the sight of it, he quickly threw his hand into a fist and walked out the door, slamming the door behind him but still trying not to wake up his neighbors.

Everything he did reminded him of her. Everything he did left him just a little more dead than before.

Brenon got to his car and, without thinking, reached his hand through the window and unlocked the door. His window had been smashed during the night, again, but he didn’t want to anger himself over it – there were other things to worry about. Besides, he knew that he was lucky it wasn’t the middle of winter.

He brushed the shards of broken glass off the seat, got in the car, put the key in the ignition and turned it on. With a pathetic roar his car started up; it was more than ten years old but it still ran impressively well, he even smiled at the thought. After a few seconds his CD player started with at a mild blare, leaving off from the last time he had used it.

So good to see you,
I’ve missed you so much.
So glad it’s over,
I’ve missed you so much.1

Disgusted he ejected the CD and threw it carelessly into the backseat amongst a pile of other junk he kept. Yet another subtle reminder of what he was only a bit more than two months ago.

Brenon drove out of the city and onto the Interstate and simply admired the freedom that came with driving. The wind blowing in his face, the exhilarating high speeds, the million miles of empty road in front of him. It was freedom, but not quite enough.

He questioned his free will while thoughts quickly filled his head. What if I just didn’t turn the wheel at this curve? What would it feel like to have my car flip into the ditch? All of this could be simple. There’s nothing stopping me. It is all so simple.

Just before he could come back from his mental drift he found himself heading into opposing traffic. Brenon quickly jerked the wheel to the right, but it was far too late. The small, gray sedan smashed violently into an SUV and then spun into another passing car.

Three cars now entangled in the middle of the four-lane highway, in an almost impressive twisted slab of metal. It all happened in a matter of milliseconds, but seemed like it had lasted forever. Only twenty-six minutes ago he was in bed, away from any tragedy.

After a bit of time, Brenon climbed out of his overturned car. Standing under the moonlight of the dead Ohio sky, completely undamaged, his mind was completely blank. He couldn’t believe or understand what had just happened. In all that he done, he still went to look for other survivors.

With no luck, he found amongst them a young woman that looked exactly like his ex. Brenon knelt down beside the smashed SUV and dropped the key chain to the ground; he didn’t even know he had it in his hand. He left it for her.

With one last deep breath he stood up and began to walk back to his apartment in the city. Remembering in his mind the picture of the back of the key chain…

Everything he did reminded him of her. Everything he did left him just a little more dead than before.

 

1 "Third Eye" by Tool

 

A short story written for my grade 12 Writer's Craft course, inspired by all the lovely write-ups in The urge to drive off the road.

Node your homework.

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