Paved With Irony

She merged onto the Interstate to save herself.

The grooves in the road met the treads in the tires with a measured thump-thump, in a cadence so perfect that her heart used it as a metronome to keep pace.

The purr of her car’s engine spoke to the buzzing in her mind and calmed it to a gentle hum.

The exhaust system emitted a throaty growl as the tailpipe exhaled sweet fumes. In a normal response she would have inhaled deeply to saturate her brain cells with the life-robbing gas. Tonight, she allowed her lungs steady and mindful breaths.

Her thoughts wandered, but her peripheral vision remained sharp, most notably with the lines and the signs.

The dashed lane markers blurred into a line that reminded her to stay in the center. The signs sent their own messages.

Orange signs meant construction and a SNAFU in traffic matters ahead. She paid them little heed as hers was the only car on the road.

Green signs meant that a street was approaching at a certain point. When the point was reached, an arrow demanded that the driver exit.

Blue signs politely invited the motorist to do the same, with promises of fuel, food, and rest.

She ignored all. She was relaxed and thought about the crippling anxiety she felt just an hour ago and how she wanted to end it. Now, she felt a calm and peace. She knew all would be okay. She closed her eyes for a moment. As she opened them, she caught a sign that read, “Right Lane, 1.5 Miles.”

Her mind tried to piece it together. Right lane closed in 1.5 miles? She was in the center lane. Her thoughts wandered again. During Driver Education, her instructor warned her about highway hypnosis. She always thought that the concept was absurd. Tonight she realized it could happen.

Her mind came back to “The Present.” She saw that she missed the orange and white exit sign in the right lane. Straight ahead, she saw the sign that read, “Bridge Out.”

Earlier she merged onto the Interstate to save herself.

She smiled at her final thought.

“Oh, the irony.”

Not Quite There Now

Last year, at this time, I was in a horrible place. I can’t say the year became better. This year we are only 12 days in and it has not been the best. People have had it worse. Our weather has been below zero. It made me laugh and reflect because at this time last year, I did not want to be here. I contemplated and acted on freezing myself to death. There are worse ways to go. Instead, I came to some sense and wrote. For those who have read it before, thank you for tolerating it again.

I step into the sub zero night.

Intentionally, I’m underdressed for the occasion. No hat, no gloves, no scarf. Deliberate disrespect.

I sit down on my stoop and close my eyes. The tears fall freely and too quickly to freeze. Are they due to sadness or the element? Does it really matter?

I inhale steadily through my nose. My membranes sting as the air gains admittance. My lungs protest at the lack of warmth and exhale the unpleasant variation in the form of a cough. I breathe through my mouth to show how it could be much worse.

My body begins to convulse uncontrollably. My mind takes over. It becomes the voice of reason and calm. Or is it the voice of illusion?

“How easy this could be.”, it coaxes. It tells me to stay on the stoop. I feel my vitals slow. My metaphorically frozen heart yearns for the literal.

My extremities follow.

The voice coos, “Now isn’t that much better for everyone?”

How easy it could be. So easy.

The voice of sanity interrupts with a jolt.

You didn’t win.

This time.

I’m not quite there, now.

the schizophrenic in my room

My mom met me at the door between the garage and kitchen.  She’d been waiting to hear me get home so she could give me some sort of warning of what I was about to face.  The strain of the early afternoon she had already lived through was evident in her features.  She quickly explained the situation to me, and when we had gathered our bravery, our mental strength, we went inside.

He had isolated himself, for the moment, in my room.  It was at the end of the hall, as far from the living spaces of the house as he could get while still being in the house.  I remember thinking it was odd that he thought this was a safe place for him to come, a home he had only been to a handful of times over the years, but he still didn’t trust us enough to be around us.

I sat at the kitchen table and started going through my homework.  I didn’t have anything that needed immediate attention, but I needed to do something to keep myself occupied.  The sound of commotion coming from the end of the hall pulled me away from the table and down towards my room, compelled to protect my home even as I was terrified of what might happen if I invaded his privacy.

A new wave of paranoia had gripped him and he couldn’t understand why my bedroom didn’t have a door.  In his panic he had begun to fortify the doorway with anything and everything he could from my room.  Somehow, I convinced him that he was safe and rather than tearing apart my room I could bring him a cardboard box from the garage and we would create a door.  That calmed him down.  For a time.

The rest of the afternoon has been reduced to a series of snapshots in my mind, where I can picture a specific moment but nothing that led to it or followed.  There were moments where I feared for him, my mom and myself.  There were moments of lucidness where he seemed normal, like the family friend my brother had gone through scouts with.

Eventually his parents came and convinced him that he’d be okay if he went home with them.  I remember wondering what had taken them so long.  I remember sighing with relief when he was out of the house.  I remember trying to understand what had happened to him and not being able to.

Over the years the images of that afternoon have faded in my head.  If I had written this story the following day, month, year, I could have filled multiple posts with the sights, sounds, and thoughts from those few hours.  However, I will never forget the look on my mom’s face when I got home, and the relief I felt after his parents had taken him away.

I didn’t judge him, but I did fear him.

Update: I won a top row award (I was one of the five favorite posts) for this one! Thanks to all who voted for me.

if i haven’t given you enough to read

Here’s a bit more:

I was recently nominated for two more blogging awards.  *pats self on back*  Look at me go.  The Matticus Kingdom is growing.  Hmm, that could just be the large lunch I had today though.

As with all previous nominations (except my very first one), I won’t be accepting, pasting them on my site, and passing them on due to the exponentially increasing mathematics involved.  They are pretty though, and it is tempting to add them to my scroll bar.

However, you should frequent the sites of those who thought I was worthy of the nominations because they too are worthy of your reading time.  I promise*.


MintedMoose nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award:


6,700+ followers can’t be wrong.  He’s got things going on over in his little slice of the blogosphere and you should be checking them out, kind of like voting, early and often.


KnowledgeKnut nominated me for the REALITY award:


Are you interested in knowledge in all its forms, venues, apperati, paraphanalia, ambiguity and preciseness?  Then you have to look no further than the KnowledgeKnut.


*As with previous promises, The Matticus Kingdom does not ever actually promise anything.  We cannot be held responsible for any entertainment value received, or not, from The Matticus Kingdom or any sites linked to on The Matticus Kingdom.  Our promises are more of set of guidelines than actual rules.  Thanks for playing along.  You can stop reading the fine print now.  Anyway, this fine print will self destruct in ….