It’s 2:56 and you are awake. The pulse under your jaw throbs. Carotid arteries throng
your brain. The senses reside here, below your jawline, so does speech. You say
“service” aloud like a wish. Go to the road, again. Go.
It’s 3:12 and you are awake.
You paddle your feet under the covers. Your mouth tastes like gravel dust.
It’s 3:27 and you are awake. The things the road says to you.
A thirsty loop. I will widen you like a horizon. I will gape you senseless.
It’s 3:44 and you are awake. Blue spots float on the ceiling. Your eyeballs itch. At last,
you reach for the flashlight tucked under your pillow. Go to the road. You leave
the back door open behind you. You hear chickens from the neighbours coop. It’s too hot
tonight for the brood to roost. There’s no dew on the grass. Dry earth crackles. Parched spring. Summer already searing in. The road says, I can hear you coming, slut. Pick up your pace.
It’s 4:12 and you are awake. Your flashlight catches the eyeshine of some prairie animal—badger or young coyote. The night has stockpiled a startling bulk of stars. Stones creep
into your house slippers. Endless mayflies coat the ground. They refuse fly away
from your oncoming steps, their membranous wings stiff and reasonless.
The road welcomes you with a hiss. Don’t lose track of your surroundings, you
remind yourself. Are you dreaming? No. What is the mood of the air around you?
Darkly elevated. Are there sounds beyond your own hurried breath? Songbirds.
Early morning warblers. Are you alone? Never.
It’s 4:24 and you brace for feral force. You are nervous because you know that if you allow something big as service road to penetrate you, you will end up crying.
You can’t remember the last time you cried. You’ve been holding for a long time.
You’re still holding now. Your knees are tucked fetal under your chin. The road holds too.
All night, it has held the heat from the sun for you. It is warm as it digs into you. Be still.
If you buck in resistance your skin will break against the gravel. Or buck. Scuff the unmarked parts of your body, what does it matter now? Thrash in this losing quarrel
with your unhallowed desires. Blowup as your muscles spasm. I will take you. The road
has taught the mayflies to sing, their chorus: I will take you. I will take you down. The road
has taught the spring heatwave to douse you in spit, lap you up with humid tongues. You
already belong to me. I’ve already used you up. You are my empty slut.
Something unnamed breaks into you. You say, “yes,” and still it’s an intrusion.
It’s 4:56 and you unmake yourself to accommodate the road. Inside out. Implosion.
Collapse without ends. Sacral nerves cower, exposed to the night.
Your thoughts are in a different timeframe. Another geography.
The first time you fucked a girl it was on a gravel road just like this one.
Just like this one, but far enough away that the daybreak birds were common crows,
not warblers, and the trees shed needles in the heat, not leaves. As you pulled
your teenage hand out from under her denim skirt, she said, “I swear I’ll kill you
if you tell anyone.” What a devastation—a fifteen-year-old girl threatening your life
while her cum is webbed between your fingers.
It’s 5:02 and you are awake. Can you stand up again?
Or will you crawl back home against the length of this gravel road?
Amber Dawn is a writer and creative facilitator living on the unceded territories of the First Nations. She is the author of five books and the editor of three anthologies. She primarily identifies as a mad, queer MILF, but hopes to one day evolve into moss-covered rock.