He woke up that morning and knew, just inexplicably knew he was supposed to get into his car and drive. So he threw a dirty pair of jeans on over his boxers, an old orange t-shirt, and got into his cherry red Camaro.
He turned the key, revved the engine, and then pulled out, no clue where he was going. How would he decide? Would the car know? Would fate just guide him? He pulled the car out and a sudden honk made him jump, a passing car with a driver waving a fist at him as it passed. He would have to be a bit more careful.
He pulled off of his street, and knew there was nothing in this small Pennsylvania town that would draw him out with such mystery and magic, so he headed right for the interstate, somehow fully aware that he had a long way to go, even though he had no real destination. It was only a few minutes before he was driving on the highway, accompanied by only one other car, a blue Ford truck, about a mile ahead of him. He drove until even the Ford was gone, and he was alone on the highway, not an oddity for this area at this time of day. The sun had only been up for moments, and after all, it was a Sunday, most people were still asleep. He looked up at the sun, wondering when the last time it was that he woke up this early any day of the week let alone a Sunday.
He saw an exit coming up, an unmarked one he’d never noticed before, and decided to turn off the interstate, this particular road made of dirt and pebbles, probably a truck exit or something, he figured. The sun almost disappeared, the trees were so thick here, and as he continued down the road, if it could even be called that, he was jostled all over the front seat due to its giant potholes and general unevenness. Something darted out in front of the car, a white blur, and so he slammed on the brakes.
Peeking over the dashboard, he turned off the radio, trying to see what it was that he’d quite possibly killed. Seeing nothing, he got out and walked around to the front. Lodged under the front tired was a large piece of paper, a map, most likely, so he got back in, backed the Camaro up a bit, then had to jump out and retrieve the paper as the wind took it again.
He chased it into the woods a bit, finally catching up with it as it was momentarily caught by a tree branch, snatching it up quickly before the wind could take it again. He gently opened it, since it seemed old, and realized it was covered in writing.
As he read it, he became overwhelmed, spellbound, excited. He could feel the world spinning, actually sense the movement under him, and he could see and hear every leaf in the woods move, every single little motion, he could hear the thoughts of a nearby bird searching out food for her babies, she seemed so scattered in her thoughts. He suddenly knew, without a doubt, that down the road was a cabin where a family was just getting up to the smell of bacon and eggs, and farther than that a deer was eating a sapling, and a bit down from that a river ran where a bear was trying to catch a fish, and he was even fully aware that today, that bear would not catch that fish, and the fish would go on to have many children, but that the bear would not.
He couldn’t even fully understand what it was that he was reading, but he could see himself, fifty years down the road, a grandson on his lap, his wife, whom he recognized as a neighbor of his, cooking in the kitchen as his family, and some of hers, prepared for some sort of celebration. He saw beyond that, wars, famines, tragedies, all in the future, he saw planes fall, men walking on Mars, tidal waves, love, he saw everything that would ever happen, understood it all, and suddenly realized what was happening. He continued to read, and the longer he read, the more of the world he saw, and he wanted to stop but could not, he wanted to know it all before this moment went away, before whatever was happening stopped, he had to know. He saw cities grow and change, buildings stretch higher, airplanes bigger, cars smaller, flying machines, floating buildings, crime, weapons beyond anything he ever knew could exist, and then, all of a sudden, he saw nothing.
He startled back to the woods at a nearby sound, and noticed a deer crashing through the woods, the same deer he’d seen eating only a moment, or maybe it was a day, a week, a month ago, he couldn’t tell. He looked around, remembered where he was, when he was, and headed back to the car. As he climbed back in, he suddenly remembered the paper in his hand, held it up in the air, and just let it go. The wind took it off in an instant, and he watched as it floated up into the air, back down, and then into the woods and out of his sight.
I liked it better the 2nd time I read it.
My favorite part is about the fish & the bear.