If you laid a transparency of then across now, there’d be no difference. The oak tree was infinitesimally taller. Knee high corn still grew in the muddy fields. The white house, with green slatted shutters, slept on a rise beside an identical lilac. Yellow pig stench choked the air. Even the girl smoking a ciggie with him was the same. College had not really happened. The demonstrations, and the wild blue moons, and the nights up until dawn accumulating debt. None of that was true. The shutters, the tree, the girl, the ciggie. Those were the facts. The other was fiction.
They breathe incense and say a prayer for conscience. And strength. And a Godspeed journey. En route to safety, supplicants meet an impasse. Unyielding metal vehicles push forward to the blast of mindless pontificating, spewing angry exhaust fumes to fill potholes. Polluting, endangering, inspiring fear. Forks in the road destroy the path to sanctity. Take a wrong turn, you’ll miss heaven’s gate.
At the border, wooden buildings loom. Maybe there’s a cross, maybe inside is sanctuary. Immunity for fugitives who flee to sacred ground. A medieval state of mind, a modern state of grace. Decried in the rush to judgement.
She hit the pavement at a fast walk. Was he following? No matter. Dusk called out pinpricks of starlight and dark bat shadows.
“They roost in caves.” He scanned the sky.
“It’s warmer when they’re all together.” She hugged her arms, working her short legs to take two steps for his one.
He slowed the pace, wrapping her shoulders in rough tweed.
Small actions, a snowballing effect.
Water droplets on his Einstein frizz fractured under each passing street lamp. She noticed.
At her flat, she returned his jacket. She closed the door, unsettled by the speed of change between them.
The careening red VW, no license plate, jumps the sidewalk. Zero culpability. It simply climbs over me. Waving my arms, I’m screaming like a madman while it turns the corner. The bug is looking for an address, looking with yellow insect eyes mounted on the windshield. What does it see through those compound eyes? Multiple images of the same thing from slightly different angles enhanced by kaleidoscopic colors like it’s on an acid trip. How will it know when to stop? I call the police. After the adrenaline ebbs, after I hear the explosion, then I wake up.