They were names like Topsail Island and Surf City, Kure Beach and Cape (everything) which decorated the highway signs. Green on white, they were … or white on green. It didn’t matter. They were portals to nowhere, as he saw it, directions to lifeless living and circling nothingness, with their soggy heat and repetitive beaches. None of these should be intentional destinations for anyone.
He looked at the trees against the night sky on the other side of his window, all deeply blue with attention. The outlines of the black figures danced like they wanted out of the place – their boring silhouettes suggested scrappy, unsightly, pathetic sticks that were stuck in the ground cockeyed by God’s sick hand. He knew man was just going to tear them down anyway, so he sentenced those that remained to an adult life of deformity … misshapen like a children with birth defects. Is that what would happen to him too? If so, who would tear him down and take him out of the place? When would they do it?
A sigh left his mouth like it had escaped his lips while he studied the road in front of him. It was not that he hadn’t the desire to be happy – the yearning for complacency … it was that he had given up on finding it in this place. The road led to nowhere.
Some things he thought would make him content, but they were only distractions which kept his mind off how perpetual his life had become, distractions which were only ever temporary, new fads that eventually lost their luster like passing road signs in the dark. Many he wanted to take with him when he left – and planned to – though he did not know when that would be. Sooner, rather than later, he hoped – 60 times per every hour of each day with no greater lapse between one instance or another.
The snow was what he dreamed about, in the dark and in the light. A cold winter day coming to an end at nighttime. Thick, deeply-green trees dancing gracefully, sending snow flakes to join others blowing off the roofs of houses with chimneys billowing smoke, all landing in yards trampled with expiring footprints, promising the appeal of thick soup next to a toasty fire inside. He would fall asleep in front of it – asleep within these dreams of his.
In the morning – but only in these dreams of his – he would wake at dawn and dread the chilly start of a new day before putting on flannel shirts over thermal underwear and under a thick coat, but welcome it all the same. His jeans would freeze before he got of the front steps of the house; at the ankle they stuck to his work boots with no tread left. Gloves would cover his hands and a knit hat embraced his head, neither doing a damn thing to stop the icy clutch of a winter morning; he began to split firewood for the day.
Then he’d wake up – always as quickly as he’d gone to sleep – and the signs of a beach town would be in his sight, blocking his view and marring his vision. Recollections of a previous life remained, but they were all behind him … and his vehicle was stuck in drive.