I stood there in the cool predawn air, thinking. No... contemplating. Thinking implies the standard action we go through every day. We only truly contemplate when something big is happening in our lives. The early autumn breeze kicked up, brushing gently against my arm. Something seemed out of place. For as strong of a gust as it was, there was no sound. The trees were still, and although I could tell the world was moving, it seemed as though it stood still. I took a deep breath of the crisp morning and let the fresh air fill my dusty lungs.
Using my electronic keys, I unlocked the door. Although I could hear the locks lift, I couldn’t see them in the moonlit driveway. Twisting the key in the steering column, I could hear the sparkplug ignite the engine. My car's dashboard flickered to life casting a greenish glow around the interior of the vehicle.
The first thing to run across the car’s screen was the word, “Escape.” At first I though the car was trying to tell me something, but soon remembered it was the model of car I drove. The words quickly faded, and the clock appeared in its stead. The clock proclaimed the time to be 5:30. Right on time.
I rolled out the driveway along the familiar course that I took every day. At this time of day everything just seems so much gloomier, I thought to myself. The moon cast shadows in the darkness which seemed to stifle the light my high-beams were struggling to emanate. I pushed the clutch in and shifted into second gear, slowly releasing the clutch to continue my course.
On my road the trees overhand the street creating a canopy. In the day, the end of the tunnel is easy to see, as the light pours out onto a major road (as major as they get in suburbia.) But, this morning it was especially difficult to see even as far as the headlights extended. As I exited my driveway onto that desolate road, I hit a slight bump causing my sunglasses to fall from the car's visor. I quickly returned them to their resting position and continued down the road.
Wanting to forget what I had been contemplating, I floored the gas pedal and rapidly put the car through the gears and shot down the short road. Realizing that there was a stop sign rapidly approaching, I put it into second gear and slammed in my break. The combination of downshifting and breaking caused the stop sign to halt mere feet in front of me. I looked both ways and lackadaisically ignored my reflexive habit to put on the blinker. There’s nobody, even a cop, out this early in the morning. Quite frankly, sometimes I wonder why I’m out this early.
Suddenly, the car grew extremely hot. I tried to turn off the heater but realized it was already off. I rolled down my window and let the air cool me. It washed over me like a wave of cool water. The streets were desolate. Not even a raccoon scampered across the barren wasteland that was the main street of Ambler. Thump. Thump. My car jumped as I passed over the twenty-foot bridge and sped, well over the limit, towards hell.
Normally morning practice is bad enough, but today was going to be the worst. Every other morning, during the week, we had to be at the pool by 5:45 A.M. ready to swim. Jumping into that cold water first thing in the morning sure can wake ya’ up. Today that water was going to feel hot with hatred. Girls can be so fickle. Friday mornings were exceptionally hard because they were co-ed in a pool only large enough for one gender. Today’s going to be close quarters. I could not have picked a worse time to do this. I pulled over to the shoulder of the road and put the car in neutral.
The ground where I sat was level, although a hill rested on either side allowing me to sit still without using the break. I pulled the lever on my left-hand side and sat back in a reclined position. Maybe I can just sit here until school starts. No one would ever know… I thought to myself as I turned on the radio. Flipping through the stations, I finally found something I liked. Then suddenly I was sick of the song and turned the radio off.
Everyone knows the flavor you get in your mouth right before you puke. It’s sour and metallic. It stays in your mouth even if you spit it out, or try to swallow it down. And, no matter what you do, you cannot escape it. I threw open my door and tossed last night's dinner onto the black pavement which acted as camouflage in the still dark morning. The clock told me it was 5:40. Who am I kidding? I’m not just gonna skip out on practice even if I am feeling sick. I returned my seat to its original position and kicked in the clutch. Even in the nearly soundproof S.U.V. I could hear the screeching of rubber as I peeled out. I arrived early enough to get one of the premium spots. Stepping out of the car, I locked it behind me.I took my sweatshirt off. Sure it’s cold out here but it’s gonna be hot in there. As I looked forward the natatorium loomed ominously overhead. The harder I tried to get back into my car the faster the doors rushed to greet me. Soon I was bathed in the fluorescent lights of the pool deck. Just remember -- they’re only fake, and they’ll never be the sunlight at the end of the tunnel.