The Next Exit

Alan P. Scott - Fictions

mood piece

An instant, a glance, through the side window as the Interstate rolled by. A patch of forest somehow forgotten, flanked by the usual flattened structures but ignoring them, unkempt and unforgiving. Pale limbs flickering between the trees. She.

You pull off next exit as if contemplating a phone call. No hint of forest in the tall signs for fast food and gas, but there it is, a right and a right and a hard left onto two-lane blacktop, undivided - the Old Road that followed the train tracks, that followed the river, that followed the curve of the land before the freeway learned to ignore it.

Here are the trees, the overgrown edges of last years' world. Here there are the forgotten things. Not wilderness, untouched forever, but a return to wildness, of land once conquered reclaiming its own in the shadow of neglect. Green and yellow, and silvery gray, the colors of lichen and rock... and trees. Reds, blues and oranges all faded to fit the landscape, no longer jarring the restless eye.

Slower now. Windows down. The air carries springtime with it, fresh flowers and the occasional whiff of skunk. More trees - fewer boxes. And here, a gravel patch above the bend of a stream, down there rippling. Its motion takes over from the car's as you sit, no longer restless. In the trees, a pale flicker... but it is only a deer, this time.

The clack of your door's latch is loud in the stillness, loud enough to drive off the deer in a sudden crashing of underbrush. When you step out of the car onto the uneven stones, you are the only creature whose heart pumps in this place.

Inhaling. Exhaling. These activities are enough, for now.

A sidelong glance. A pale flickering. There, through the trees. She.

You follow.


©2004 Alan P. Scott. All rights reserved.

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