when the chafe of summer heat starts to leave oozing blisters on every familiar street corner, i pack the trunk, tetris-like, for a cross-country road trip. red, white, and blue reflections in the rearview, i’m kerouac and steinbeck’s protagonist; i’m dancing in the margins of rascal flatts and springsteen songs. i dart from hotel lobby to hotel lobby, room keys as band-aids over hometown wounds and every truck-stop pie from here to california as balm. some nights, i will hear the corn shout the answers to my doubts, and some nights it’s the unfamiliar forest and all i hear are wolves. but every night the sky falls open before me like a glittering script, wipes away blood and bruise with carefully rehearsed mystery.
of course, i never actually leave my house. no one does. the fluorescent liminality of rest stops and the mcdonalds- exxon junctions that pass for towns--the wings, if all the world really is a stage--have been replaced by a new kind of haunted americana. only the lines of yellow and white paint remain, streaked across black tar with the lonely glint of headlights or tire rims. the emptiness scoops the untapped possibility from exit signs, strips the passing towns down to stoic brick. there is an audience, but only of eyes and breath, monstrous in the shadows and teeth pulling at our communal flesh. life is liminal now, waiting for an endless cue. life is limited now, no answer for adventure.
M.P. Armstrong is a disabled queer writer from Ohio, studying English and history at Kent State University. Their work appears or is forthcoming in Silver Birch Press, Prismatica Magazine, and Red Earth Review, among others. They also serve as managing editor and reporter for Curtain Call and Fusion magazines. In their spare time, they enjoy rock concerts, board games, and brightly colored blazers. Find them online @mpawrites and at mpawrites.wixsite.com/website.