This flash fiction piece was inspired by my first novel (yet to be published), about a woman who drives through a cornfield, crashes into an old oak tree, and wakes up in small town 1880.
Was it a dream? Or did it really happen? Who is to say?
Her car streaks down the highway in the granite dawn, her heartbeat matching the thrum of the tires. Fluorescent pinpoints from distant skyscrapers become nothing more than blurred starlight as she madly races towards her destiny…a destiny she has waited to fill longer than she can remember.
A sliver of apprehension cuts into her thoughts. A foreboding, like a ghost crossing her path. Why is it an effort to remember the number of the exit? Why does the city in the distance waver as if seen through crackled glass?
Metropolis turns into suburbia and then into country, yet she cannot slow down. Eventually the Buick veers from the concrete onto the tarmac of some long forgotten road lined with the skeletal remains of fall. Her window is open, the last breath of night air chilling her, thrilling her. It’s not far now. Instinct drives her forward ― instinct and desire. He is somewhere ahead, pacing on the dew-covered grass beneath the maple archway. Watching. Waiting. She senses the sparkle of his chocolate eyes, his scent of sweat and hay and the muskiness from his turn-of-the-century charm.
The road ahead is shadowed. She doesn’t remember the giant oak tree on her last drive through this part of the countryside, nor the weathered barn in the distance. She cannot remember many details of her last visit — but it doesn’t matter. Her heart pounds faster as crimson streaks highlight the horizon. She cannot bear to let him slip away again. Not without a word, without a touch. He is dark and deep, passion and fury, a flicker of days gone by. He said he would wait for her, and she promised to return.
The car’s acceleration slows, and tears of frustration well in her blue eyes. She is lost. Too many turns. Too many distractions. She cannot tell cliffs from moors, fields from meadows. The dark crimson glow over her shoulder is now a soft magenta ribboned with blue. She is running out of time. Hills to mountains to boulders along the side of the crushed gravel road, yet this has to be the way. The road twists in a pretzel design, dead-ending at a forest dark and primeval. She drives to the maple archway at the edge of the wooded glen and stops.
He stands at the hedgerow, a masculine glow in the twinkling dawn. She fumbles and stumbles through the tall brown grass and into his arms. She has made her way back through time. Her need reaches out to him in the pale light of morning, his response soothing and gentle. His loving words curve and twist around her soul and down into the abyss of her dreams, curving and twirling and tumbling and swirling until they slowly turn into echoes from a conch shell. Eternity disappears in a starburst of angel wings, only to reappear as the soft drone of the morning alarm.
Once again, she has returned. Awake. And alone.