I drive slowly past the gas station and cafe, the church and school. All the buildings have broken no one.
There is a backwards window and rust covered signs. I hear the tires crunching on the battered asphalt of the two-lane road. I glance in the rear-view mirror, half expecting to see someone standing in the road. But there’s a path that leads from where we are now to where we’ve been. It might be winding and often broken with side roads taken and untaken. But it is still a path. I see the past. I see the present moment.
How often have I wondered what might have been if I hadn’t said I was joking? By the time we spoke, I was over my malaise. If he’d called an hour before, I might not have been. The idea was crazy. I shared it with him anyway.
“I was thinking we should both just say, ‘Fuck it’. We can move to San Diego where everything’s always perfect.”
The line remained silent for a moment and then he said, “Actually, I wouldn’t mind taking you up on it. I couldn’t contribute much financially, but it sounds pretty good to me.” He might have been joking. There was perhaps a tinge of desperation in his voice. But I didn’t ask and we changed the subject to his meds.
Five days later I got the call. “Your brother killed himself.” Maybe I wasn’t surprised by the news, but I certainly wasn’t ready for it. What was it about that morning that made him know it was time to go away?
My mind wanders down the path of that rejected future. I see an apartment with lots of light. We’re servers at the same beach cafe. We ride our bikes to work. Maybe that life would have ended in tragedy too because that’s who he was, always building his ships to sink.
Death is its own kind of escape. The ultimate solution to a problem that your mind can no longer offer an answer to.
Now I travel the path between past and future alone, looking for peace.