By Set Sytes
Northallerton We used to call it Weary Road. We never knew its real name. I went back there, I couldn’t tell you just why, and here I am now, driving down its grey lane, and it seems so very long.
We used to go there whenever there seemed too much chaos for one world to hold. We used to go and sleep together – just sleep. Side by side under the trees on the side of the road. I never liked waking up and leaving that place, and neither did you. We liked leaving the road even less than we liked leaving each other.
The engine is purring, a soft rumble lulling my mind. Music is playing on the stereo, but it seems so quiet, drowned out by a thickness in the air. The soft melody playing in my head is louder.
Trees pass on either side. Their leaves so red in the dropping sun.
It is warm in the car. I look in the mirror and see my own eyes looking back at me. They seem so sad and endless. I force my eyes back down to the road.
I wish you are here with me. We used to fight monsters together, but the monsters outgrew us. They grew and grew and we never did.
You said you’d meet me here, back on Weary Road. I keep thinking I’ll see you standing there, waiting. Some vain hope, for you never appear. You’re something lost, something gone.
I haven’t passed a single car. It’s just the road, and now the light is all gone except that of my headlights, lying soft and white on the tarmac. The trees are all dark but as I approach they turn briefly pale and spectral like tall ghosts.
I’m so tired. My eyes are blinking slower and slower. I feel like I’m wading through the world. The clarity of everything is turned down, like the dial on the stereo. Fading away, replaced by a heavy blanket.
I don’t know how long I’ve been driving. Hours, maybe days now. The road goes on a lot longer than I ever remember. But I think I’ll stay. Sometimes I think I like being tired.
When I close my eyes there’s a slow yawning rush of blood to my head, like water filling a tank. Whenever I open my eyes the world seems different, but I can’t tell you how. Only that it’s winding down.
My speed might have slowed to a crawl. I don’t know. I’m not looking at anything but what’s straight in front of me. That black line prefaced with white, dragged out to the horizon and beyond.
Maybe I never reached the end before. It’s hard to see too far ahead, with the dark cluster of forest and these long, languid bends.
I know you found it hard. I think you wanted to come back here, but maybe you stopped believing it could do anything for you. I think all you really wanted to do was sleep. That’s all I want, anyway.
The car drives on. I am just its passenger. My hands on the wheel are only a pretence; I’m not moving it.
In the back of the car are my father’s gun and a rope to tie with. I can feel them there behind me, like patient devils.
I’ll find you, maybe. I miss you.
When I reach the end of the road, I’ll know.
I’ll see you again, I know. We’ll meet again, down at the end of Weary Road.
I close my eyes and let the car drive.