Juliet Escoria

October 26, 2014
Somewhere in Ohio

The night before we did a reading in Indianapolis, and now we are driving back home. I haven’t been around people that much lately and we stayed up late and I woke up feeling headachey and dehydrated and anxious, the way I did back when I still drank and was hungover. When we stop at a gas station, I buy a pack of cigarettes to complete the feeling, even though I have supposedly quit.
There is so much roadkill this time of year. Some places on the pavement, it is hard to tell if it is paint that has been spilled or blood.

Somewhere in Indiana and we see this deer walking in some grass on the side of the interstate. Its hindquarters look like they have exploded but it is still upright. Neither of us can tell whether it has been shot or run over.

A few weeks ago, I found a picture of a deer with its stomach slit in a magazine and I cut it out and put it above my desk. Now I feel guilty, guilty for conjuring this animal on the side of the road, this thing that is still alive but suffering, this thing that will almost certainly die soon. Its pain and its blood are because of me.

We get into an argument over CDs. It isn’t quite as stupid as it sounds; it has something to do with ex-boyfriends. I end up throwing the CDs and they spill all over the car. He yells at me. I pull the hood of my sweatshirt down as far as it goes, and it covers my eyes and I feel protected from the bright light of the sun and also his anger.

But not really. Soon I am crying. Soon I am crying and I can’t stop. I try to think about why I am crying but there is nothing. There is nothing wrong except for everything. I am crying so hard I can’t catch my breath. I feel like something has gotten me, grabbed hold of me, is making me crazy, a demon or alien clasping onto my brain. And then I am certain my mom has died, certain something terrible has happened to her, and I am crying because my mom is dead.

Eventually we pass from Ohio back into West Virginia. He pulls over at a gas station. The parking lot looks into a McDonalds. All the lights are on, even though it isn’t dark yet, and everything seems to be made out of either plastic or glass. The horizon keeps tilting in the neon light. He tells me everything is OK, and I try to believe him. I stop crying. I check the mirror and there are mascara tears on my face, and I clean myself up.

Eventually I am well enough to go inside. I use the restroom and he buys me a Gatorade. I feel embarrassed because there are a lot of people at the gas station and my eyes are all red.