I have wandered through the wood outside the village these past hours. The night was deep and cold. The trees, dark shadows under the new moon, loomed over my head menacingly. I made no sound. I left no mark. The world did not notice my passing.
Now I leave the wood. I have already left my home, left my family, left my friends. It is a night of leaving. I have not looked back before, but now I do. I turn to face the wood. I fix its image in my mind.
As I follow the winding trail over hills and through gullies, the sun prepares to rise. The sky is pink and orange, gashes of red cloud like cuts on a soft arm. I step on sagebrush, releasing its pungent aroma into the dawn air. Around me all is still. Fences, regular as the seasons, divide these hills and fields. Sloughs lie silent, undisturbed by wind. Houses surrounded by windbreak evergreen are silent and dark. An owl screeches as it decends, bringing death. The heavens are open above me, deepest blue scattered with quiet points of light. An airplane blinks red like a moving star. The world does not notice my passing.
In the distance, a train. Speeding through the night to deliver its cargo, it is unstoppable. It does not look ahead -- it runs over all those who lie before it. It will not hesitate, it will not reconsider, it will not backtrack, it will not think, it will not care. It will not regret.
I am delicate, fragile. My work is hard, my pay little, and my comfort none. My mind is numb from long waking and mindless occupation. Thoughts speed hell-bent to conclusions, unstoppable. No hesitation, no reconsideration, no backtracking, no thinking, no caring. I will not regret.
I near my destination. I am descending, sinking into a rolling valley. The trail winds through bushes and small trees. Branches stab and scratch me, catching and tearing my worn clothes. Soon my goal will be within sight. I thrill in anticipation.
The highway spreads ahead in double laned glory, fresh yellow and white on smooth new black asphalt. It extends North and South as far as I can see. It welcomes me with arms extended, ready to embrace.
It is not yet light. The sun's progress is visible, slowly igniting the sky. The valley is dark, full of shadows and deep black. Objects blend into objects, foiling my night vision. Above me, an owl cries its haunting death knell. I smile. I have chosen my time well.
I arrange myself carefully. Raven dark hair cascades past cold cheeks and black turtleneck. Unshod feet are shrouded in black wool, damp from early dew. Spread-eagled, horizontal, paper-thin. I will myself to sink into the ground below. I will myself to be invisible, impossible to feel. I have planned well.
I see the wood in my mind's eye. The image, gathered against fear and doubt, serves me well. The sounds of the night accompany it. Imaginary image and real sound harmonise, contrast and intermingle. I extend my arms, ready to embrace.
I have fallen into a state of half-sleep. I dream fitfully of endless nights like this, filled with stars and woods and hooting owls, filled with trails and branches, half-woken suns and fresh dewdrops. I am immobile. I am waiting. The time has come, and I am glad.
Rush of noise and adrenaline. Hummm of engine, whizzzz of wheels on road, click of machinery. I tense in my subconscious rest. I fall...
A bump in the road startles her into full waking. Ethereal, tenuous, bodiless, I caress the hands that guide the wheel, in thanks. She, unknowing accomplice of death, smiles.
The concept for this story comes from a teacher's account of a group of rural people who would commit suicide by lying on the highway in the early hours of the morning. Low light would make the people invisible, and drivers would never know what they had driven over.