Pursuit

She gripped the wheel and pushed the accelerator to the floor.

He flipped on the lights and siren and pushed his engine to the limit.
She glanced in the rear-view mirror and clenched her teeth, willing to go faster.
He gained on her; he would catch her.
She could outrun him; she would outrun him.

They whizzed down the vacant highway, turning the serene country night into a Las Vegas weekend.

She was the outlaw.
He was the law.
She felt she could do anything right now.
He would catch his fugitive and be the hero.
No hero could ever stop her; she would escape.

They crashed through the peppermint blockade at a toll booth, leaving the operator wondering what in the heck just happened.

Again, she looked behind her.
He was gaining on her.
She frowned.
He smiled.
She screamed and punched her steering wheel; doubt infiltrated her conscious and called out to her. You’ll never make it!

Joline slammed her brakes and came to a complete stop in the middle of the turnpike. She jumped out of the car and sprinted to the edge of the road, hoping to beat the cop on foot. Nothing but pure adrenaline coursed through her veins. She left the asphalt road behind her and entered a jungle of knee-high grass, which only slowed her progress. A mere football field away was a grove of dark pine trees: refuge.

Jon halted his car behind the fugitive’s and chased after her. She was young and spry; she was faster than he. There was no way he could catch her on foot. He drew his .9mm and penetrated the crisp air with three vicious shots. The first two bullets missed their target but the third struck her calf, sending her to the ground. He holstered his weapon and sprinted toward her. Just before he reached her, she leapt to her feet and with all the speed she could muster with an injured leg, raced for the trees. Again Jon drew his handgun and this time it only took one shot to keep her down. The pursuit was over; the outlaw was captured.

Blurry Lines

“Let’s go out and see America.”

That’s what I told you, and I meant it. I expected you to be skeptical; you never were someone to board my crazy-idea trains on a whim. But this time was different and you surprised me.

“How long?”

“As long as it takes.”

So we dropped everything we were doing in life; we dropped out of college, quit our lousy part-time jobs, and just like that we left. We pooled our money, sold some junk, and took your van.

We both agreed that it was irresponsible, but did we care? Sometimes you have to live a little. That’s how we justified it anyway.

Within a month we were out of money, the van had broken down for the hundredth time, and our spirits were at an all time low. We had no choice but to return home.

That was when the accident happened.

Now as I return home without you, something feels weird; everything feels weird. I stare out the window and the world is no longer described by the lines, colors, and points that defined it before. Instead it blurs by like a Van Gogh masterpiece, the blues and greens morphing into one, the lines and points combining into a single nonsensical mess. My world feels hazy and everything is wrong.

I’ll be home soon and then I’ll have to face life. I’m not ready. I’ll never be ready, will I?

I’m an optimist, but sometimes bad things can’t be undermined. This is one of those times.

Airplane Romance

They met on a plane. Romantic, isn’t it? A domestic flight out of JFK airport, they were both returning to Houston after visiting family for Christmas. They hit it off right away.

“Hope this isn’t weird, but you look a lot like my cousin!”

“Ha! That’s not weird! It’s pretty cool, actually!”

They talked until they felt the plane moving down the runway, ready to take off.

“Hey. If I snore, feel free to nudge me. I’m notorious for snoring.” She said with a smirk, planning to sleep the whole way home to H-town.

“Sounds good.” He smiled back at her. She was beautiful. Short and curly, her fiery hair stood out to him as extraordinary. She struck him as a free-willed, stubborn type. That didn’t bother him though. In fact, he always imagined himself settling down with that kind of girl. He was laid back, a follower rather than a leader, and overall just an average guy. He found life enjoyable by the people he put himself around.

Twenty minutes later, the plane was in the air, droning on drearily, pushing through the mellow clouds like a stick through a marshmallow.

He couldn’t sleep, no thanks to his seat mate next to him. Sure enough, she was snoring. He sighed and turned in his seat slightly, trying to find a restful place, but he couldn’t ignore the irregular noises beside him.

Should I wake her up and tell her she’s snoring? He wondered.

The flight attendant approached, offering blankets to the passengers. Thinking quick, he asked for two. He glanced over at his new friend next to him, the small window bearing the weight of her head.

“Hey.” He tapped her shoulder. No response. “Hey.” He tugged her sleeve. No response. “Hey.” He shook her shoulder gently and her eyes slid open, unveiling her small, brown eyes. She sighed heavily.

“Was I snoring already?” She yawned.

He grinned. “Yep. Also, I thought you might want a blanket.”

“Thanks.” She took the blanket from him, turned her shoulder and once again leaned against the window. She was a sleeping machine.

He smiled, leaned his seat back, and sighed contentedly, shutting his eyes. I could see myself dating this chick. And he slept.

An Old Man

The worst feeling in the world is that of being lost— nobody likes it. The only options when lost are to ask for directions and risk looking the fool or to indulge in arrogance by stumbling around a few extra hours. Either way, the outcome is dim.

What’s worse than getting lost? Getting lost in the middle of the forest just before sunset on a winter day in Scandinavia. This was my situation.

Given my circumstance, it was understandable that I wasn’t in the best of moods. My morale was sinking as quickly as the sun, which was pretty low already. I was cold. I began to think about how I would stay warm. With nothing more than the clothes on my back, I had no method of making a fire. Yes, I realized that it was possible to make a fire by rubbing sticks together, but I was by no means a survivalist. My skills extended no further than watching Bear Grylls in a few episodes of Man Vs. Wild— that guy’s a boss.

Fortunately, my mind didn’t have too much time to come up with worst-case scenarios before I stumbled upon a path. With spirits lifted, I exuberantly followed it through the woods, hoping upon a star that it would lead me back to the town I was staying in. Spoiler alert: it didn’t. Instead, it led me to a small shack in a clearing. I was disappointed to say the least, but not all hope was lost; smoke was pillaring out the chimney of the cabin. I began to imagine myself sitting by the fire, eating steaming stew and drinking a piping-hot drink. Eagerly, I rushed to the door and pounded on it. My teeth were chattering.

The door creaked and an old man stood in front of me. It then hit me that I was not in America. This man probably didn’t speak English; I certainly didn’t speak a lick of Norwegian! An awkward moment passed before I spoke up.

“Hi!”

The man mumbled something incoherent.

“Hi,” I repeated. “I’m lost.”

The man said something in a different language. I assumed it was Norwegian. My hopes began to sink again. I felt the distant warmth of the fire tickle my icy nose. I had to make it inside!

“Can I come in? My name is Jared. I’m lost. I’m from America. I don’t speak Nor—”

“American?” The man mustered in his best English.

“Yes! American! Can I come in?” I found my hands more useful at communication than my words. I made a few weak gestures, trying to convince him to let me in.

He seemed content enough just knowing that I was American. He stepped aside, inviting me in.

“Thank you! Thank you!” I rushed inside, desperate to feel the fire. It was then that I realized just how pathetic I was. Here I was, a twenty-something year old, able-bodied man, unable to fend for myself in the wild. And to contrast that, I’m finding solstice with a withered old man, probably in his sixties or seventies, who seemed completely able to take care of himself. America has made me weak, I thought. I dismissed the idea for the time being. All I really cared about was how wonderful the heat of the fire felt upon my numb body.

The old man was a wonderful host. He made me some hot tea, which I gulped down with joy. It wasn’t until I was warm and relaxed that I had the idea to use a translator app that I had on my phone. I typed in “Thank you. My name is Jared. I am lost. Do you have a map or someway to help me get back to the town I’m staying at? Sorry to impose, but can I sleep here tonight?” and translated it to Norwegian. When he saw it, the old man chuckled a little and for the first time, smiled at me. He took the phone from me and translated a message for me. It said “I’m Alex. My home welcomes you. I shall show map to you in morning. You sleep on floor tonight.” I typed in “Thank you.” He nodded.

The next morning, I was alone; the old man was nowhere to be found. All I saw was a note in Norwegian and a map sitting on the table in the cabin. I translated the letter which strangely said, “Jared, I have left. I am moving on in world. Cabin has been my home for ten years, but today is day I leave. Here is map. Wish the best of you in life. Goodbye.”

After a short walk through the woods that had disoriented me the night before, I found the small town I was staying in, returned to America and continued to live my life. But I never forgot the old man who let me stay in his cabin that night. To this day, the story of Alex is one of my favorites and I tell it to anyone who will listen.