Friday, January 16, 2009

On A Game Board

My left hand is on the top left curve of the gray steering wheel, my right hand is a mirror of it, gripping the thin piece of plastic. I feel the urge, the desire to release my left hand and caress the smooth, long fingers that grace the nape of my neck, but I cannot…there is too much at stake. The paved road is worn and bumpy, there have been too many cars travelling too long and too fast. The white lines clearly indicate our prescribed path and I need every bit of attention to stay within them. My eyes awaken to the game, and we are among the many players in shiny colored objects moving across the board. The road begins to split, green signs with block yellow writing point in different directions, my left hand reaches for the knob, it turns on the blinker and we merge seamlessly into another path. The metal machine is powerful, I awaken to that knowledge with a tinge of wide-eyed fear. Can I handle this beast? This is more power than I should be granted, the force of our velocity is too great. I imagine turning the wheel sharply and driving us over the freeway’s edge, sending us plunging into the bushes below. A red car passes us on the left. Another player moves. A discarded piece of trash drifts in the wake of rubber tires and disappears beneath the hood of the black truck. In front of us, a red car changes lanes. No one talks. There cannot be words, there cannot be listening. These moves require me, they demand my attention. There’s a shiny building over there, the reflective windows shoot back our vision. In the mirror, I see the green player switch paths. The cement bridge is wide and thick, the tires are making gripping sounds. The wind pulls us onwards and in the distance, the buildings loom in the hazy sunshine. My hands are on the wheel; my face, nearly expressionless; my eyes, dead ahead. The wheels pull us onwards. The pedal moves us onwards. The freeway begins to end, taking us down one last curving slope, we are moving too quick and I grip the wheel and press the brakes in muted panic. This is real and unreal. There is a red stoplight, I gently push on the brakes and we are still. My heart beats, my eyes are dead ahead, a girl in calf-high leather boots walks along the crosswalk, her arms swing confidently at her sides. A young woman crosses a couple seconds behind her, she’s wearing tight jeans and black high heel shoes, the jeans are a little short. Two other girls, they are more round, wearing jeans and sweatshirts. The wind blows and the tree tops on the curb rustle. There is a trash can, it’s green. The light is still red. The light is green, my foot presses on the gas pedal. Our turn to move. There are other cars on both sides of us. There is a red light ahead, we slow down. We stop. There are groups of people at the crosswalk waiting for the signal. There is a man in a maroon turban talking on a cell phone. They cross, I look at them as ghosts. We are ghosts. A bicycle. A man. The building. We turn left. There are cars ahead, my foot presses the brake. Onward. Raw. Data.

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