Excerpt from the Recovery Blog of Olivia Celine Crane
Sunday, 2034-10-28, Day Seven
816 Days After
Three second-hand stores, two pawn shops, and one (pitifully small) truckload to the Salvation Army later, I was done. Everything tying me down was gone. I had nothing but a duffle and my roller box and a 12 year old car I’d purchased with cash from my bank account. All bills paid. No more debt. No more rent. No more ties to bind … and strangle.
I packed my car, got behind the wheel and I swear, I sat frozen by the possibilities and the fear. Where would I go? What if I broke down before I got there? What if the Good Samaritan who stopped to help me was an axe murderer in disguise? Or worse, someone who wouldn’t kill me quick but take his or her time?
What if I got arrested for being double parked in front of the building I could no longer call home?
Oddly enough, the threat of a mere traffic ticket was sufficient to get me moving. One mile and I was shaking. Two and I nearly turned back to beg the landlord to renew my cancelled lease. Three miles and my hands ached from clutching the steering wheel. By mile five I was sweating. By eight I had to pull into a parking deck because I was hyperventilating. I drove to the very top where I could see the sky and not feel closed in … and broke down and cried.
I’d lit the match on my last bridge and panicked as it burned down around me.
Why the hell did I think I could do this? What could I possibly achieve from a life on the road if I couldn’t even leave my driveway? I was now homeless, damned near broke, and one tank of gas away from being well and truly stranded.
God! I hated being afraid. I hated being sick. Fucking. Hating. Sick. Of it.
Something hot rose inside me. Hard. Loud. Primal. I screamed. Screamed until I had nothing left. No voice, no air, no throat. Just fire where they’d once been.
I blinked, dripping sweat, snot, and tears. My head was killing me. My hands hurt. I choked and coughed, peeled my fingers off the steering wheel and mopped up. The windows were fogged. I lowered them and the cold autumn air soothed my raw hot self back down.
The fog retreated and the world, like my wits, crept in.
How long had I been there? The dashboard clock said twenty minutes. It felt like a century. The cold air hit my sweaty skin and made me shiver but I felt mired in wet concrete, too exhausted to raise the windows again. I closed my eyes and recalled the weather report. It would dip below freezing tonight and I wondered what hypothermia would feel like. A whine met my ears and listening hard, I realized it didn’t come from me. Surprise made me open my eyes.
Movement ahead. I spied a construction crane past the parapet of the parking deck, swinging in a lazy arc half a block away. Gold afternoon light slanted into the control cab and for a second the crane operator looked right at me. He tapped the brim of his non-existent hat and went right on working: Hello. Goodbye. I must be going.
So should I.
South, my gut whispered. If I left now, I could to beat the rush hour traffic on the Turnpike and be halfway across the next state before midnight. I rolled up the windows, rolled up my sleeves, and put my car in gear.