- The Recurring Theme
A car, a train, an airplane. A subway. A moving vehicle speeding past the last exit before an insurmountable incline. A bridge to the sky, a highway on-ramp. I panic as my brain scrambles to spot a way out; some means of escaping the inevitable, because the road is so narrow and the guard rails are so low, that I know the slightest swerve will send us careening over the sides to the icy waters below. A sick feeling swells through my stomach as the vehicle climbs higher, at an angle that shifts to ninety degrees. Without fail, it comes to a halt before reaching the precipice, a tantalizing moment of dread passes and then it drops backwards while I tumble, screaming.
Sometimes I wake up right then, a shriek caught in my throat. Other times I live out a few more never-ending scenes that imprint into a vivid memory that lasts for days, weeks, years.
a) I drive the car at break-neck speed on to a ramp that curves and swirls like a Hot Wheels play set. My kids are in the car, they’re little, and they’re laughing because they think it’s a fun ride. We are rushing forward into a stormy atmosphere, and I notice the break in the road that I have to jump, exactly like the one in the movie Speed. Problem is, I’m not Sandra Bullock and I don’t have Keanu Reeves to talk me through the navigation of such a feat, and we pitch into nothingness, then drop sickeningly, into a river. I frantically roll down windows and shout at the kids to unbuckle their seatbelts, and we manage to scratch and scrape our way out until we are bobbing and drifting and waiting to be rescued.
b)I am driving a large, long city bus but the steering wheel is set up at the very back. It’s nighttime and the eerie glow of streetlights shimmers against the endless windows. We pass through a slanted space, lights flickering madly like when Willy Wonka took Charlie and the gang on that insane boat ride through the tunnel in the Chocolate Factory. The only passenger is the ghost of a man I once knew, and he looks back at me as if to say, you know how to drive, what’s the problem? But a corner is coming, and I have to make a turn, which is difficult from this ridiculous rear perspective. We tilt and waver, but I manage the turn, only to find the bus is now on train tracks heading up and up. Our speed decreases and I feel a hitch, hear a clink. And just like that famous roller coaster at Canada’s Wonderland that pulls you up one hundred and twenty-one feet, holds you for five seconds and then drops you down, down, down, the bus rests, tentative, precarious. The ghost casts me a penetrating gaze right before we plummet into blackness.
3. Possible Conclusions
I am afraid to lose control of my life.
I am afraid to be in control of my life.
I am afraid I will never succeed.
I am afraid I will succeed.
I wish I could meet Keanu Reeves.
Roald Dahl stories leave a deeper impression than you think.
I really should muster the courage to ride The Bat someday.
Sara Dobbie is a writer from Southern Ontario, Canada. Her work has appeared in Menacing Hedge, Trampset, Bandit Fiction, Change Seven Magazine, and elsewhere. Stories are forthcoming from Knights Library Magazine and The Lumiere Review. Follow her on Twitter @sbdobbie.