• By Isabelle Brady (she/her)
  • Art “Air Shot” by Aoife Arras (she/her)

I thought we were a two-way street. I didn’t notice that traffic didn’t come back to me from your end. Maybe I was too inexperienced a driver. Or perhaps I was preoccupied with the wreckage in my lane. The road to you was straight and strewn with debris—new flaming wrecks and pieces of old ones that you carried with you, like the busted axle lodged in your heart. You were always veering off in some direction, always lurching over your own litter, edging past the white lines and toward the safety railing. If I didn’t catch you, you would only catch yourself when you bumped against it.

You had poor mileage. You burned through all the light that others gave you because you couldn’t generate your own. You couldn’t keep your own battery running. You always needed a jump and never had the cables. I never noticed until I needed one.

The road to you looked like a two-way street, but the lane back to me was always under construction, always “Road Closed,” always broken asphalt and potholes so big they could swallow your wheels. You didn’t know how to navigate them. You didn’t know how to repair them. Have you ever been outside yourself?

We drove deeper into you because that was the only place our road led. All the while, you told me how precarious you felt when you ventured toward the edge of yourself, toward the border you shared with places that you wanted to go. You never tried to visit me. You only used me to patch you up when you got into accidents near people you wanted to be part of. I’ve never seen someone crash so many cars.

I can’t stay with you anymore—not when I have no route to return to myself. I am reversing past the wreckage. My tires grit over broken glass. They puncture me over and over again as I retrace the only road we ever traveled down.

Next time I embark down a seeming two-lane road, I will expect oncoming traffic. I’m a better driver now. ▲