The lights bobbed in the distance, as if the land had turned liquid and they were beacons moving up and down with the swells. Blinking my tired eyes did little to stabilize the view. This was nothing new, though. My weak eyes had long had problems with lights at distance in the dark. That sentence would remain true if it had just been distance. The dark only made it worse. Lights were a trick I would always fall for, a riddle I could never solve.
The lights continued to bounce and I carried on, trying to ignore them and their trickster commentary on my shortcomings. The day would come and the lights would fade behind me and out of my memory while the sun took its place in my horizon. The distance would solidify once more. My sight would improve. And the two, intertwined, would improve my mood even if only for a short time. Sometimes that is all that is needed, a small moment of hope and brilliance, of clear sight, to fight against the darkness of our days and thoughts.
The lights crashed and retracted. My mind raced. The road beneath my tires slipped by from the darkness ahead to the darkness behind, the dashed yellow line ticking off the miles. The lights, moving unnaturally in their swaying, hypnotizing, distracting way, tried to grab my attention, tried to suck me into their depths and I ignored them. But, not entirely. They held too much sway in the way they moved, like buoys on a rising sea, for me to forget them entirely.
Wisps of fog spread beneath the slivered moon and the light tower winked and blinked as it swept its circles. He welcomed the sight, a sign of familiarity, of routine, in a dark morning that had been anything but. Nothing had gone according to plan since he’d woken, hours before the sun was even considering making an entrance. That daily occasion was still far off. The winks, the blinks, the fog, the moon all seemed to laugh at his futile attempts to find balance. He’d laugh too, if he had a voice.
He could still remember the taste of words but could not remember the sound of his own voice. It was one more odd thing about him in a list that grew daily. He had kept a list, pen on paper, for a bit but when he realized he was going to need more paper to keep it going he had abandoned the endeavor and had begun to accept the truth. He no longer minded being weird, eccentric, outside the norm. It was routine he still craved. And it was routine that was failing him. He’d blame the slivered moon but that wouldn’t solve anything, and it really wasn’t the moon’s fault.
In all likelihood, the disturbances in his morning were his own fault. All the odd things that happened around him usually could be tracked back to being a result of his quirks. He couldn’t easily see the direct connection that morning but that didn’t mean it wasn’t there. One time he traced a day gone wrong back to a toenail he had failed to pick off the ground and place in the trash where it belonged. That one bit of carelessness had caused a whole day to go sideways. Afterwards he had researched having his nails permanently removed, to avoid such a disaster in the future, but the procedure was prohibitively expensive and no reputable doctors would perform it anyway.
The fog thinned further and the tower faded in the distance behind him, leaving only the moon to shine down on his progress. He liked the moon. Always had. It represented something magical, even if that sorcery was based in science. Its influence on the world was something he appreciated, longed for at times. He didn’t want the attention it received but he wouldn’t mind its importance. His jealousy of the moon was another of his oddities he had made peace with.
The dark sky cracked in a thousand tendrils of light reaching away from the east and he smiled for the first time all morning. Finally the sun was rising and perhaps that could turn his day around.
The brick courtyard sparkled in a thousand shining rectangles, where the light bounced and danced off the more sunken stones, left slick by the morning dew. I wanted to hop over the wet ones, in a morning waltz, or perhaps more of a swing, but there were too many of them, scattered almost haphazardly but still with a sense of balanced symmetry that made it impossible. Surely, I would have fallen. Then again, some risks are worth it in this life, are they not? We are constantly striving to live safer, to live longer but does that dampen and deprive us of adventures we might have had otherwise?
The brick courtyard shimmered in a thousand radiant rectangles. The lamps cast their soft light downward where it reflected up in thin pools of water that had come to rest in the pre-dawn hours. One light above created hundreds of lights below, dancing together one with the others in a beautiful ebb and flow as I walked across the dry stones. I wanted to skip, to play, to join their dance and sing the songs of morning that were bursting from my heart…
And yet, I didn’t.
And that is something I may always regret.
The brick courtyard dazzled my eyes and set my mind racing with dreams of adventure. What might have been if only I had risked giving in to that moment? Likely nothing of great importance, no life changing epiphanies, or spiritual awakenings. But rather than telling you about that one time I saw a beautiful dance floor spread before me and I chose to walk, I would be telling you how I sashayed my way into the day instead. And who wouldn’t want to read that?
It is surreal, on my dark morning drives, to travel down empty stretches of backroads where the only light is provided by my car pressing forward towards the coming day, to then have that serenity distorted by the glowing fields where crops are being blasted with LEDs to mimic daylight and therefore hasten their growth. The immense and intense light glares and blasts skyward to spread beneath the ever present marine layer, amplifying the impact, the disturbance of my peaceful drive.
Then again, people do need to eat. And the lights are on an organic farm. No pesticides. No genetic modifications. The lights are an experiment to see if the farm can produce better food faster under improved, mostly natural, conditions. I can’t fault them for that. The needs of the many outweigh my own desires for a pleasant drive through the morning darkness.
And yet, I do fault them all the same. We are selfish creatures. The people who will benefit from that food are abstract and in the moment, all I really can consider is my own grievance, the own detriment to my night vision, to my drive, to the start of my day.
But then the lights fade away and I’m left in peace again and all is right.
The leaves crackle as they scrape across the asphalt on the dark, crisp morning. Autumn is stalking me from the dark shadows of my deserted alley. It makes my skin scrawl and sets my teeth on edge. I hurry my steps to the presumed safety of my car, because like sheets as a child, the glass and door provide the illusion of safety. I half expect a monster to pull free of the darkness and crash against my car, unleashing the fury it has to hold in check nine months of each year. In my imagination it roars in gusts and scratches the glass in flutters of falling leaves. I ignore the ghosts of my mind, start my car and pull free of my spot. My headlights splash against the corners and send the monsters scurrying away. My tires grind the leaves into the pavement. Soon the sun will rise and the air will warm and then my mind will be free of its morning haunts.