Trails of Dust

The beginning of the day was where she had ended the one before, along a dusty highway in no man’s land. Here she was all alone, a woman on a mission toward absolution.

There was a shallow haze of uncertainty in the air that shaded any light to guide her toward where she needed to be. This was familiar territory for her, uncertainty. Her motivation would be to keep moving toward something more certain, which always seemed to be some distant horizon. The mountain range surrounded her from East to West, shadowing any glimpse of what might be up ahead, while protecting her with its definitive embrace.

With its sacred sense of piety, the atmosphere became stiff and silent, offering a place where only the chosen were called into its sanctuary. She would heed that call as a faithful follower, driving deeper into its mirage of heat waves upon the road, with each passing mile chasing them further away. The dry season was evident, as sagebrush began to take on a shape of defeat, and towering saguaros stretched their limbs upward in prayer, pleading for relief. There was no movement of any inhabitants, not even the wind dared to pay a visit. The stillness of silence rang in her ears, as she witnessed the courage of the desert, abandoned by its nature.

The one thing she loved most about the desert landscape, was its own measure of certainty, where for miles away, you could see who or what might be coming. Whether a dark sky was gathering over the range, or sweeps of dust from an approaching traveler, the unhidden agenda of the expansive terrain gave her enough warning to ponder her next move. And there it was up ahead, a trail of dust smoldering off to the right side of the road, a curtain of earth elevating itself toward the sky. She could barely make out the vehicle, watching its casual pace creep toward the main road, swirling up the earth like a lazy devil with nothing else to do.

Watching this trail of dust inch its way closer, gave her a little reprieve from the feeling of desolation of her own presence. What began as a road trip into the mountains had somehow become of a trip into her subconscious.

The day started with an eerie sense, an early morning knock on her window that made her jump awake to see a Highway Patrol officer standing outside her car window. What the?, she thought, as she rolled down her window to see what he wanted. “Ma’am, it is too dangerous to park along the highway here.” That’s when her sleepy eyes saw his name tag, Jack, a funny reminder that she had left Jack sitting alone at the table last night.

“O.K. officer, I’ll move along.” Checking herself in the rear-view mirror, she saw the officer get back into his car and pick up his radio, checking her plates for something, or maybe calling in so he could hit the road again. She knew it was time for her to move on too, and put aside all the questions about what happened last night, and why she stopped here alongside the road.

The cloud of dust was clearing enough for her to see an old man driving a pickup, windows rolled down with his elbow resting upon the door, and one hand resting on the wheel. He was in no hurry to go anywhere, unlike her anxious desire to get out of nowhere, and fast. The old man waved as he passed by, never looking away from the road. Turning over the ignition sparked her into action, stepping on the gas, she kicked up her own dust, wiping away any trail of her overnight existence. This was no longer no man’s land she thought, thinking there must be a town somewhere down the road, she continued North on 80, for no other reason than to distance herself from the memory of where she had been.