I put on socks and shoes for the first time in days. Still comfortable, nothing too fancy. If I wanted to, I could go for a walk, and I could walk for a mile or two without getting blisters. I brush my hair. Pull it into a ponytail. My phone, wallet, and mask are on the table where I left them – a week ago? Two? But I lose a few minutes searching for my keys. My keys are almost always lost.
Then I’m out the front door, down my front steps, past the overgrown juniper shrubs and grasshopper-devoured rose bushes, and onto the driveway. I climb into my car, drop the phone, wallet, and mask onto the passenger seat. It’s hot inside, a dry heat that smells like chemical lemons, a consequence of keeping disinfecting wipes tucked between the seats.
My first memory is me, sitting in a car seat. The car is gray. I look out the window and can see the exterior. There’s a house. The sky is blue over the house. I live in the house. The car is parked in the driveway. That’s all I know. I don’t remember if we were coming or going. And that’s it. My first memory: a car either arriving or departing.
Today I’m in the driver’s seat. I turn the key in the ignition. The car is definitively rolling backward, away from the house where I live. No particular direction or end point in mind. Just the roll of tires, the air conditioner finally chasing the chemical-smelling heat away, and a song I like on the radio. One street over, a hawk is circling, waiting for me to fly with him. Once I clear the neighborhood, I open the window and I open the throttle and I fly.
The sky is as blue as my first memory. The clouds are brushed wisps. I steer south, away from town, through the twisting back roads leading into tumbleweed. The wind pulls at my ponytail. I stick my hand out, catching and waving the air. This doesn’t feel like the stagnant air I’ve been inhaling through masks and indoor ventilation. It’s hot. Fast. Swirling. Something wild horses breathe. Something hawks soar through. Something tangible filling the dome of the sky.
Jenny writes dark fiction that her mother hates. Her stories and essays have appeared in Across the Margin, Pantheon, Shimmer, Black Denim Lit, Skive, and others. When she’s not writing her own stuff, she’s reading mysteries for Criminal Element. When she’s not writing fiction or reviews, she’s writing/directing/performing/designing plays at Springs Ensemble Theatre.