For a few moments I considered going back to the store and facing Tess about us and what I had seen but quickly my own cowardice and propensity for avoiding conflict squashed such a notion. I grew frustrated as I drove because I had no idea where I was heading. Over the next 25 minutes I rehearsed our relationship and experiences. I kept seeing over and over her smile, her eyes, moments holding hands, kissing, hugging – over and over, moment by moment. Finally what started entering my inner dialogue was “this doesn’t make sense” and “she and we – are real – right?”. I looked down at the console and saw that the time was 9:30 p.m. – and again my mind went off trying to understand the events and moments. When I had left the cafe to embrace Tess at her work it was 7:35 p.m. and the cafe is at the most five minutes from the store. Where had all the time went? What had happened over the past hour and a half? Missing time? I slowed to the side of the street behind a parked car. I looked again at the console then picked up my cellphone and looked at the time on it. They were within a minute of each other. I turned on the radio and then turned it off – radio never does what you want. You turn on the radio to hear the traffic report and you end up driving for 20 -30 minutes hearing 15 minutes of music and 15 minutes of commercials. When you are now in the midst of the traffic jam and long delay signs – THEN you hear the traffic. And mind you the person usually giving the traffic tries to say it like the typical male monotone voice of a disclaimer. So incredibly hard to hear and usually of little value. So why even bother trying to hear the traffic report? Best guess is because if you comment to someone about the bad traffic and they say “why didn’t…” you can honestly defend yourself and show you were trying to be proactive and reasonable about the commuting experience. But I digress…
So where did the missing time go? My mind quickly flashed to Mulder and Scully and the whole experience they had on the road to one of their cases. Abduction? Don’t snark! It is the only reasonable explanation for the reality in my book. I look in the mirror lifting my head slightly to see if their is any blood coming from my nose. I look at my eyes. They seem wide, blood shot and glassy. I look around the car and I don’t see anything out of place or damaged. I look back at the console and my cellphone. What the heck?
Tap! Tap! I was so freaking startled I let out a little girl scream. I know in that moment I experienced complete blood loss from my head and upper extremities. I felt squeamish but I turned my head to the window on my left. “What are you doing silly?” I look and try to focus my eyes. It was Tess. Quickly my fight or flight response kicked in and then just as quickly pooped out. I was exhausted. Between the epiphany at the cafe, the gut punch at the store and now the reality of missing time (abduction) – I was too tired to run or fight. I saw her face and the big smile showing her perfect teeth and I did the only reasonable thing I could think of. In one motion I lowered the window and swooned into her light.
The words I wanted to say to Tess rushed around in my head, getting more and more jumbled by the minute. I became convinced as I got closer to the store that the best thing I could do was hug her and that in that embrace all of my feelings and intentions and expressions would magically enter her body, soul and spirit. My own words would fail me if I had to articulate them, but the embrace – the power of touch would not fail me – or her. When I got to the store I looked at the front desk and then at the registers but did not see her. I heard her voice, actually her laughter and I am certain a wide smile raced across my face as the warmth of her presence was confirmed. I headed toward her laugh and saw her in the aisle in the embrace of a man probably ten years older than either one of us. She looked so happy and I was stopped fast in my tracks by the weight of my breaking heart crashing quickly into my legs. He twirled her and she cooed. Neither one saw me and I did the only thing I knew to do instinctively – I ran quietly the other way.
I made it to my car, fumbled with my keys and finally got the engine to start up and in flight mode still pushing my consciousness, I fled the parking lot heading – somewhere.
By the time I had my wits actually return to me I was about thirty minutes north of my town. I had crossed several intersections of railroad tracks and was in the area of the city where nothing but warehouses and manufacturing towered on each corner of the blocks. I slowed down and began digesting what had transpired. I replayed it several times in mind to make sure what I saw and heard was actually real. Eventually my numbness must have traveled to my legs because unbeknownst to me, I was sitting still in the lane of the street. I could feel the power of flight regathering in me and then a sudden jerk to reality made me aware of the fact I wasn’t moving any longer. I looked around and then looked in the rear view mirror and saw my eyes.The eyes were so sad and timid. I looked away quickly just like one will do when you unknowingly catch the stare of someone else. I didn’t want to be the person I just saw in the mirror. I did an illegal u-turn in the street and headed back to town. I didn’t know where I wanted, actually needed, to go but I knew it was for certain in my town. I looked down at my cellphone and back at the road. Folks? Bad move. They would see through me at the moment. I figured I should go home but I didn’t want to do that. My mind kicked on auto-pilot and I drove slowly back to town.
The Present was no longer a place or time to embrace or enjoy. The Principle had immediately dashed my heart and soul. So I drove.