You are a river I can’t hold on to

Testing out modes of writing, 500 words for class, this is my take on New Journalism.

I’m cruising along Comfort Road, colours blur in front of me until nothing makes sense. Stop. Focus. Which way next? The roads are open save a few silent witnesses. I head towards the water to gain my bearings and wait for the familiar whip of sea air. Nothing happens. The ripples are limp and forget to speak. I turn the other way, the grass looks thread bare, the trees don’t tweet or flutter. Nothing is moving but me.

In reality nobody drives here and there are no cars. I’m on the Google driving simulator and I’m steering with my mouse.

I know the street my sister lives on, although I have never been. Saskia moved to Ohio last year, everyone wondered what it was like. I wanted to see what it was like. I typed her ZIP code into Google, hit ‘maps’ and dropped the little icon of a man onto the street view. I drove around her neighborhood, checking her route to Uni. “I hope she’ll be ok” they said. “I know she will be”, I nodded. I’ve seen, and she will be.

I move on. Travelling at breakneck speed in a borrowed car, I catch that familiar sign. The car thumps to a halt. Graceland. He always looks the same, the stranger blocking my view. The sound of the phone wakes me. I have to go. I close the browser. Sorry Elvis, I’ll come back, I always do.

I want to go somewhere the air tastes sweet. I type in the words. Highway 101 and I’m driving on the wrong side of the road. The Madonna Inn. I close my eyes to remember. We were friends then, we ate cake, posing in the leather chair by the fireplace, laughing so hard tears tickled our eyes. Sweet sixteen. The sun was shining. It shines in my sleep.

The next day I walk to the tube station, past the fuming dog and the smell of popcorn. I half run down the escalator and wait for the familiar whip of warm air. It’s time. I squeeze onto the train, trying to dodge the man’s sweaty hair in front of me. There is nowhere else to stand. Panic clothes my eyes. Breathe.

Later I see Kate. I tell her that I almost ended up with someone’s hair in my mouth on the journey. She visibly curls at the thought. New subject. I mention Google maps and the Madonna Inn. Her eyes widen, “I used to live along the same street!” She tells me how every year Mr Madonna would bring a giant circus cake to the street party. Everyone loved that man.

I haven’t driven properly since moving to London four years ago. There are lots of cars but nowhere to park. The city is my freedom but it can also feel claustrophobic. On days like that I go to my white desk pull out my white chair and open my white laptop. I type in a place name. I open the memories, and my thoughts colour everything.

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