A Story by the Side of the Road
May 10, 2014
THEIR IT WAS, a story by the side of the road, and I didn’t know what it was.
I still don’t.
And it haunts me.
I was driving north,and a light rain had begun to pepper the ground around us.
Storm clouds were dancing overhead.
Lightning was writing script in the sky.
It looked as though a constant barrage of flashbulbs from an old Speed Graphic camera was breaking down the darkness.
My headlights struck them first.
They were on the far side of the median, standing in front of a car that was headed in the opposite direction.
No flasher lights.
Two people in the darkness.
And a girl.
Maybe twenty-five years old.
They were holding on to each other as though tonight and that single frozen moment in time were all the time they had, and maybe it was.
She had long brown hair.
It had been pasted against her face by the rain.
Her head was buried in his shoulder.
Was she crying?
I don’t know.
Was she in love?
I don’t have a clue.
Had they just met?
I wouldn’t be surprised.
I’m traveling sixty miles an hour down a somewhat crowded highway, and I saw them for only a moment.
Then I was gone.
And so were they.
The darkness had swallowed us all.
Had she run away?
And did he run to catch her?
Had they been in a wreck?
I doubt it.
No other cars were stopping.
Were they homeless?
Were they stranded?
Were they on their way home?
Were they running away from home?
Had he just proposed marriage?
Had she just threatened divorce?
Did he want to leave?
And did she want the kids?
Had hearts broken?
Or been repaired?
Would they be together come morning?
Would they ever be together again?
Has they ever been together at all?
Were they lovers in the rain?
Were their lives entwined?
Or were they just passing by and happened, by chance, to meet in the middle of a busy highway when the skies throbbed with storms and the rain pounded the pavement around them, and lightning caught pale glimpses of their faces.
He was holding her when I saw them.
Perhaps he is holding her still.
Perhaps there was one last kiss, one last separation.
One lingering goodbye.
A slap to the face.
But there they were.
And a girl.
Heading down the same road.
Or in opposite directions.
Touched by love.
Or torched by hate.
Did they awaken in each other’s arms the next morning?
Or where they still standing in the rain when day broke – drenched, cold, caught in the spray of cars racing past, their tires kicking up water that had gathered by the side of the road.
Theirs was a story I would love to tell.
But their story remains a secret.
Only the darkness knows, and the darkness didn’t care.
They kept their story to themselves.