The wind bullies its way in through the narrow opening of the cracked window, roaring through the car while it rolls down I-90. Snippets of songs breakthrough in the ebbs of gusts, small instances lasting just long enough for me to tell that the rock station I put on as I crossed the state line was still going strong. Sun breaks through the expanse of grey that makes up the sky here and glints off your sunglasses. I bat them away. You don’t even notice.
I’ve set the car to cruise at a solid eighty, way above the speed limit, but I haven’t seen a cop for hours and you don’t seem to mind. Trees, crowded by tangled brush, rush past us as we continue our journey east. They form a solid wall of green and we drive this narrow corridor bound by the grey beneath our tires and the sky melding into one eternal loop. I’ve said nothing to you in hours. You haven’t spoken in days. What a right pair we make.
This road trip was supposed to be fun, an escape from the busy city into the green mesh of mountains and forests we always said we’d move to, but never did. We kept delaying due to work, stress, school, or finances, and time slipped by until we got too comfortable in our city life and stopped looking backwards at the dream of leaving and instead got caught up in the drive towards some artificial success. Until finally, success gave up on us. Gave up on you. Seemed like the perfect time to take this trip, but your silence is deafening.
“Hey, I was searching around on Google Maps last night and saw a place south of here with a ton of waterfalls. Want to go?” I say, taking tiny glances towards you.
You stonewall me, continue to sit balled up and silent.
The exit looms.
We’re going to see waterfalls.
It took a silent argument of accusatory eyes to get you out of the car. The accusation was all me. You sat, a shell of your former self and only left the car when I lifted you from it. On the edge of a gorge we continue our silent conversation under the sound of rushing water. You’re looking around, taking in the trees, the water, and the birds fluttering from branch to branch. It’s all reflected in the smooth metal of your container and sitting here, alone, I can no longer hide from the fact that you’re gone.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” I murmur, voice carried away in the swirl of the stream below.
I imagine you respond in agreement.
When I got the call, from an overworked and overtired nurse at the ER, I didn’t believe that you were gone. That the woman on the other end of the line, who struggle to inject care into a limp voice, had called the wrong person. She refused to tell me over the phone what took you. Seeing the mangled wreck of your body was enough to tell me why.
Some things are too hard for words.
Your parents demanded your body be returned to Ohio, a place you left as a teen with the hatred of corn rooted in your veins. Ohio was backwards, past the land of our dreams and into the realm of your nightmare. I can’t leave you there.
The top on your urn pops as I pull it free and there you lay, a pile of ashes making up the most important thing I could have ever dreamed. I sit with you between my legs, overlooking the water, and throw you out into the wind. You scatter, landing on bush and rock, water and dirt, but this is better for you. You are not one to be spread among the cornfields of your ancestors, on a land you never loved. It is better for you to be one with our dream. My dream within our dream. Forever at peace.
It’s dark by the time I get back in the car. The wind blusters its way through the open windows, swirling into your open, empty container. There is no music to guide me, no sun to glint off your discarded glasses. Just me looking down the long road illuminated by my headlights as I turn back towards the city. And a life without you.