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The Night Road

The sun flees behind me, sullen, as I pass it by. Night slowly smothers my world, until all that exists is a shrunken cone of light, a feeble token of my unwillingness to fully surrender to the darkness. The smooth dark curves of the mountain road reveal themselves by this light, tantalizing glimpses of yellow and white paint keeping me within the night road’s embrace.

Each curve is a new mystery to explore, the road leaning away from the light and refusing to reveal itself. They must be felt, intimately, each meter of the curves coyly unfolding itself under my touch as I slide along it. The sharpness often stabbing, forcing an unexpected response, rapid deceleration followed by careful, thoughtful exploration.

Mysterious shapes slide by, tugging at my mind, familiar yet completely foreign. The road consumes my attention, even to consider what lies beyond, in the darkness, is a risk not worth taking. Somewhere above lights in the sky beg to be revealed, but the curves before me refuse to allow it. There is nothing but the road for me – even time holds itself at bay, a forgotten measure of little import on the night road.

Sometimes, in times like this, the night brings a companion. I can feel her caresses on my skin, sinking into my bones… the cold comes gently at first, a welcome companion to the night. Spurned and hated during the day, somehow in the darkness she feels true. No resentment at first, only acceptance. This is what the night road means.

Quivering, shaking, I explore the curves without motion. It’s there, touching the edges of my mind, the understanding that somehow, in this place, I do not move upon this road. My hand controls not my speed, but in some strange way the movement of the road underneath me. The night road’s curves fly beneath me in my stillness.

The cold is unhappy with my distracted acceptance, my concentration upon the night road. She begins to claw at my face, my fingers, my arms. I fend her off as best I can but she will not be denied. An ultimatum is clearly put before me, I must choose: forsake the embrace of the night road, or suffer cold’s wrath.

I will not be denied the night road! I fight against the cold, blowing warmth into my gloves and pumping hot blood through my muscles however I can. At first the cold recedes, shocked at my vehement resistance. Insidious, she returns, bringing another with her, one she knows I cannot fight: fatigue.

Nervously at first, she sits with me, talking to me of her sister, sleep, and the comforts to be had in her embrace. Cold slowly drapes herself around me, seeping into me once again as fatigue distracts me. Jealous, the night road veers away in front of me, a sharp reminder of her disdain for my lack of attention – a near miss, a broken shape fumbling out of the dark within inches of my face.

Remorsefully, I give in. For tonight, I leave the night road and flee the spurned cold, seeking the warm and soft embrace of sleep. When I wake, the night road will be gone, replaced with something lacking in mystery, an open world spread before me – but only for a time.

I will return to the night road before long, and begin again the careful dance with her sisters. It is inevitable.

(edit Mon @ 9AM: I wrote this in my tent last night around 1AM. Reading it this morning I’m not sure whether to laugh at the silliness of it or cry at the remembered emotion I felt riding last night. I’ll leave it to you to decide…)


Liana said…
This is the single most beautiful thing you have written, Peter.

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