Free Way

It was raining and I was sitting in the backseat of the carpool as we rode down the freeway, fidgeting irritably as we tried to shift in our seats to get a bit of room to ourselves. There were five of us in the car altogether, which isn't very comfortable at all since the car only seats four adults comfortably. It was Kyle's turn to drive that day, and boy that guy can't drive for shit. It's not that he is a terrible driver or anything - because he has never received a ticket or crashed into anybody - but he is so cautious that you wouldn't believe it. I mean, he always has to drive at the speed limit and he stops for at least five minutes at every stop sign and crosswalk, and the man doesn't even take the shortcuts. Oh no, he has to take the direct route just to be sure that he doesn't get lost. The guy is a prat if you ask me. He isn't a bad guy or anything, but he is a prat just the same.

Riding shotgun was Carol and if you had ever seen Carol, you'd know why she was always allowed to ride up front in the only comfortable seat. First of all, she had the most beautiful face I'd ever seen in my entire life. Her hair was a creamy light brown, curled very loosely and fell down gently upon her shoulders, and she had a body that could knock anybody out. Even Kyle, you know, that's just how beautiful she was. Anyway, the other reason why she always sat up front was because she was the boss's daughter. I'm not sure why she always rode with us in the carpool when she could have just as well taken a limousine or something to work, but we never questioned why she always came. We were worried that she would stop coming along if we asked her.

Sitting in the backseat to the far right was Devin. No matter how much sleep that man got he would always snooze on the way to work. I'm not entirely sure what department he works at or anything, but he can't possibly do more work than I do. His persistent napping was enough to drive someone insane. The constant snoring, how he always kicked the door when he was having a nightmare, the way he tugged at his seatbelt now and then, all of it was just frustrating. Once I grabbed my suitcase and jabbed him in the ribcage with it. It might have got me in a hell of trouble with Kyle, but it made me feel better.

Between Devin and me was Angie. She was a bit chubby and had frizzy black hair that she was constantly brushing or running her hands through as if that would make the knots disappear. Whenever she hears something funny she has this habit of clutching her sides and guffawing as if it was the funniest thing she had ever heard. Sometimes I want to smack her but I don't because she's a girl, thus making it "improper." Who decided that anyway? If she slapped me no one would care. To pass the time she leans over sleeping beauty and counts the cars from Idaho.

It was the longest drive in my entire life.

"Hey Angie, did you finish the report you were working on yesterday?" Carol asks as she applies a bit of strawberry lip-gloss to her pretty smile. Angie giggles a bit as she turns away from the window to look at Carol's reflection. Instead of offering an answer she goes back to staring out the window. Devin twitches in pain as a knee digs into his right thigh.

"Damn it, Angie, get the hell off of me." He grunted, kicking her off of his lap. He sits up to rub his sore leg and proceeds to stretch his arms out a bit before leaning against the window again. "The hell am I supposed to sleep if you keep wallowing over me like that?"

"Both of you knock it off before I pull over," Kyle sighs.

"Oh no, we don't want that." I mumble sarcastically.

As Kyle drove down the freeway there was nothing to look at except the cars that pass by the windows. When you're a kid you count the number of red or blue cars that drive on by, or look at the license plates and see how many you can find that come from Texas, Ohio, or Colorado but as you grow older you just lose interest in games like that.

Staring out the window, I raised my eyes skyward and noticed all the smoke and exhaust that escapes from the back of cars. It swirled high above us, churning into a smoky gray color that looked like death. The sky isn't all gray though. There's still a part of the sky that remains an innocent, pure blue shade.

Sometimes I wish that I could reach that blue sky, but you have to build your own wings and try you're hardest to reach the unreachable. That's what I did that day. Kyle stopped the car and I opened the door stepping out into the middle of the freeway. As fast as I could, I went running, my legs cramping as soon as my journey began. And I ran down the freeway, past the cars, beating my wings down by my sides hoping for the wind to blow underneath them, granting lift.

To my surprise the wind pulled me off of the ground and I could see Carol's head sticking out the window, watching me from so far below. I spread my wings as far out as I could, soaring higher and higher above the freeway. So high above the slowest driver in the world, the boss's daughter, the childish dreamer, and the human cat that never wakes, and yet…the smoke entered my lungs and I began to cough. My eyes shut tight as I drowned in the air, and I fell back down to the hard ground. Blood spills, bones break, spirits soar…and then…

"Hey, you idiot, we're here already. And you say I never pay attention to anything just because I take a twenty-minute nap in the car. You fell asleep right in the middle of our conversation, too." Devin rolled his eyes as I looked away from the window. Yawning, I opened the door to the car and stepped out into the parking garage almost thankful that the car had stopped.

And then…

"Hey Greg," Carol smiles as I toss my suitcase in the backseat and quickly climbed in the car. Kyle adjusted his mirror and pulled out a pre-moistened toilette to clean his glasses off. "Did you get a good night's rest? We don't want you to join Devin in napping on the way to work. It's so boring without people to talk to."

If I didn't love that girl's smile so much I swear I'd tell her to shut up. I force myself to smile, but it comes off as more of a cynical grimace. "I slept alright last night. My roommate came home really late though and made a mess of the room trying to get ready for his night shift at work. I wish he would get fired or move out sometimes. It's too much of a hassle to share a room with anyone, but I need the extra cash."

Carol frowns and as she is about to say something, Angie and Devin fight each other to get the window seat. After a moments quarrel, Angie gets stuck sitting in the middle once again. I swear, Devin was beaming as he rolled the window up and down like a toddler who just one an argument. I'm surrounded by infants, or something. The car starts up and Kyle makes the long drive onto the freeway. Devin leans against the window and falls asleep.

"Hey, when you guys look out the window what do you think of?"

"Huh?" Devin asks, looking up at Carol. Her cheeks turn pink and she stammers a bit saying that she was just sort of curious. Sometimes I wonder about her. She seems to be really interested in Devin but they have no chemistry in my opinion. Devin has no chemistry with anyone who has half a brain. He's better off with Angie.

"When I look out the window I think of cars!" Angie shouts out loud with delight. Gee Gandhi, you sure do a lot of deep thinking when you stare out the window of the car. You must fall into deep meditation as you knee Devin in the groin every morning. I roll my eyes and glance out the window beside me, quietly pondering why Angie has never looked out my window before.

Devin yawns obnoxiously, "I think about work and rush hour. That's all it is, isn't it? People driving to and from work, grumbling about how they wanted the little donut with the multi-color sprinkles on it until their kid took it. Life is boring isn't it?" He laughs. "We're all robots! We get up do the same things every day, go home, sleep, and do it all again tomorrow. I wonder why sometimes. Maybe we should all quit some day. What about you Kyle? What do you think about?"

"Driving."

"Ah, come on. You're boring Kyle. What do you think of Carol?" Devin asks, a hint of interest playing in the way he asks the question. But Carol simply shakes her head to and fro as if that's an answer in itself. "What do you think of Greg?" Devin asks tilting his head back to look at me, though his voice and eyes clearly show that he doesn't give a shit about my answer.

"I think about angels." I mumble, turning away from everyone. What in the world made me say that? They don't need to know about any of my opinions anyway. Carol's voice pipes up from the front seat.

"Why does it make you think of angels?"

Too embarrassed to turn around, I continue staring at my window, only I'm glancing at my reflection instead of the cars and landscape outside. "I don't know. It's just that I keep having this dream…that I'm an angel running down the side of the freeway, trying to fly."

"Trying to fly? That's strange." Her response kills me. I fall asleep.

When we're driving down the freeway there is nothing to look at except the cars that pass by the window. Staring out the window, I look at the mountains not too far off and see smoke flowing from chimney tops from houses and factories. The smoke piles out into the air and almost seems to suffocate the air. The sky isn't all gray though. There's still a speck of sky that remains an innocent, pure blue shade.

Sometimes I wish that I could reach that blue sky, but you have to build your own wings and try you're hardest to reach the unreachable. That's what I did that day as we talked about angels and robots. For some odd reason, I shouted for the car to be stopped. Kyle slammed the breaks of the car and I opened the door stepping out into the middle of the freeway. As fast as I could, I went running, my legs cramping as soon as my journey began. There was this imagine in my head though of something far off at the end of the path. So I ran down the freeway, past the cars, and the smoke, beating my wings down by my sides hoping for the wind to blow underneath them, granting lift.

To my surprise the wind pulled me off of the ground and I could see Carol's head sticking out the window, watching me from so far below with her familiar smile. I spread my wings as far out as I could, soaring higher and higher above the freeway. So high above the slowest driver in the world, the boss's daughter, the childish dreamer, and the human cat that never wakes, and yet…the smoke quickly entered my lungs and I began to cough. My eyes shut tight as I drowned in the air, and I fell back down to the hard ground. Blood spills, bones break, spirits soar…and then…

"Hey, you idiot, we're here already. And you say I never pay attention to anything just because I take a twenty minute nap in the car." Devin rolled his eyes as I looked away from the window. My eyes shoot open and I quickly sit upright. Everyone is staring at me, with an odd expression on their slightly bemused faces. I sense my eyes widening and I point at Devin, opening and closing my mouth like a fish.

"Erm…didn't he say that exact…"

"You fell asleep right in the middle of our conversation, too."

They open the car doors and step out in the parking garage. For a few minutes I stay seated in the same position, pointing at an invisible figure. With a shake of my head, I yawn and turn to open the door to head off to work.

And then…

"Hey Greg! Did you get a good night's rest? We don't want you to join Devin in napping on the way to work. It's so boring without people to talk to."

I freeze halfway through the door of the car. My suitcase slips out of my fingers, as I was about to throw it into the backseat. Something doesn't feel right. It's like that French phrase…déjà vu – it kinda feels like this has already happened once before. Carol smiles at me and buckles her seatbelt. With a slight shake of my head, I clamber in the old car and take my seat next to the left window. "I slept alright last night." I lied. In reality my roommate had kept me up the entire previous night. "I'd like it better if my roommate would move out, though. He's too much of a hassle but I need the extra cash so he has to stay I guess…"

I trail off as I get this odd feeling about what I'm talking about again. Carol frowns and as she is about to say something, Angie and Devin fight each other to get the window seat. I swear, Devin was beaming as he rolled the window up and down like a toddler who just one an argument. I'm surrounded by infants, or something. The car starts up and Kyle makes the long drive onto the freeway. Devin leans against the window to fall asleep, sticking his tongue out at Angie as she pouts, popping a peppermint into her mouth as she tosses the wrapper behind her.

"Do you guys get the feeling that we've done all this already?" I ask.

"Huh?" Devin asks, looking over at me. For some reason, he looks a bit flushed as if he's embarrassed or angry. I raise an eyebrow and shake my head thinking that my eyes are just playing tricks on me. "Never mind, forget about it." I grumble.

"When I look out the window I think of cars!" Angie shouts out loud with delight. What on earth did that come from? Wait, this seems eerie. I narrow my eyes to chance a glance at Angie who digs her knee into Devin's thigh as she tries to roll the window down. He tries to push her off of his lap to no avail. My head starts to whirl around and I feel a dizzy spell coming on.

Devin yawns obnoxiously, "What's so fascinating about staring out the window anyway? There's nothing out there but a bunch of robots driving cars on their way to work. It's not like anyone is going to break free of the system and do something different. It's always wake up, go to work, come home and sleep. Then the next morning you get up and have the same conversations and see the same people."

"Driving."

"Wait, Dev, what did you say?" I spin around, my seatbelt digging into my shoulder. He arches an eyebrow and looks at me quizzically as though I have lost my mind. For a moment he seems lost in thought, just staring at me sort of if he was watching television. Eventually, he turns his back to me and falls asleep against the door.

"Staring out the window makes me think of angels."

Bewildered, I look up at Carol who bears an affectionate smile on her face as she looks out the window beside her. I note how cute her hair looks today, with her curls gently sweeping her satin-smooth neck. Devin starts to snore, killing the mood. Embarrassed by my obsessive staring, I turn around to look out my own window, only I'm glancing at my reflection instead of the cars and landscape outside. "There's something weird about talking in the car on the way to work. It's almost as though we're on a carousal. Some of us are going on for the third time while others stepped off already. Hopping on and off, but always repeating the same path."

"Did you get a good night's rest?" My head hurts; I slip and hit it against the window.

When we're driving down the freeway there is nothing to look at except the cars that pass by the window. Staring out the window, I look at the mountains not too far off and see smoke flowing from chimney tops from houses and factories. The smoke piles out into the air and almost seems to suffocate the air. Some how, the freeway seems to go on forever. Does it even have an end? As I look up I notice that the smoky pollution seems to mimic the gray pavement below it. It's like…the sky decided to stop reflecting the water to reflect something darker. The sky isn't all gray though. There's still a nearly invisible part of the sky that remains an innocent, pure blue shade.

Sometimes I wish that I could reach that blue sky, but you have to build your own wings and try you're hardest to reach the unreachable. That's what I did that day as I fought off my sense of déjà vu. For some odd reason, I shouted for the car to be stopped. Kyle slammed the breaks of the car and I ended up smashing my head into the front seat because I wasn't wearing my seatbelt. Fumbling with the lock, I opened the door, stepping out into the middle of the freeway. As fast as I could, I went running, my legs cramping as soon as my journey began. There was this imagine in my head though of something far off at the end of the path, something resembling an angel. So I ran down the freeway, past the cars, and the smoke, beating my wings down by my sides hoping for the wind to blow underneath them, granting lift.

To my surprise the wind pulled me off of the ground and I could see Carol's head sticking out the window, watching me from so far below with her comforting smile. I spread my wings as far out as I could, soaring higher and higher above the freeway. So high above the slowest driver in the world, the boss's daughter, the childish dreamer, and the human cat that never wakes, and yet…the smoke quickly entered my lungs and I began to cough. My eyes shut tight as I drowned in the air, and I fell back down to the hard ground. Blood spills, bones break, spirits soar…and then…

"Hey, you idiot, we're here already. And you say I never pay attention to anything just because I take a twenty minute nap in the car." Devin rolled his eyes as I looked away from the window. A small splotch of blood where I hit my head dried on the handle of the door. I can sense the awkward tension in the car between the five of us. For some reason, I feel like I should say something but my mouth just opens and closes, uselessly.

"You fell asleep right in the middle of our conversation, too."

It just doesn't feel right anymore. There's something wrong about the way we're talking, how I'm moving. No one else seems to notice, though. They open the car doors and step out in the parking garage. With a shake of my head, I yawn and turn to open the door to head off to work.

And then…

"Hey Angie, Did you get a good night's rest? We don't want you to join Devin in napping on the way to work. It's so boring without people to talk to."

I freeze halfway through the door of the car. My suitcase slips out of my fingers, as I was about to throw it into the backseat. This seems familiar, and yet…it just doesn't. I know that Carol has used this greeting before but she had always been talking to me. Carol smiles past me and buckles her seatbelt. With a slight shake of my head, I clamber in the old car and take my seat next to the left window. "I slept alright last night." I said, but Carol made no attempt to respond.

I have this odd feeling, déjà vu or something. Carol frowns and as she is about to say something, Angie and Devin quietly take their seats, buckling their seatbelts as they greet Carol and Kyle with a wave. Angie reaches over Devin to roll the window up. The car starts up and Kyle makes the long drive onto the freeway. Devin leans against the window and falls asleep. The car is silent for a long time before I break it by asking a question that had been burning in my mind. "Do you guys get the feeling that we've done all this already?" I ask.

"Huh?" Devin asks, sitting up and looking at Angie. For some reason, he looks a bit flushed as if he's embarrassed or angry. I raise an eyebrow and shake my head thinking that it's my eyes are just playing tricks on me. "Did you ask me something?" She shakes her head and Devin stares at the floor for a moment, drawing a letter with the heel of his foot before laying back down again.

"There's nothing out there but a bunch of robots driving cars on their way to work." Carol murmurs as she looks out the window. She doesn't seem like her usual self today. There's definitely something wrong with this scene and a part of me wants to scream my lungs out. "It's not like anyone is going to break free of the system and do something different. It's always wake up, go to work, come home and sleep. Then the next morning you get up and have the same conversations and see the same people."

"I'm driving." Kyle mutters, switching lanes.

"Stop the car!" I scream, releasing my seatbelt. I try to stand up just as Kyle slams the breaks, causing me to lose my balance and knock my head against the door. He looks back, horrified, and stares at me quizzically as though I have lost my mind. Devin yawns obnoxiously and as he spots me he leans over Angie and shouts "holy shit!" repeatedly. Eventually, he turns his back to me and falls asleep against the door.

"Staring out the window makes me think of angels."

My vision starts to blur. Carol opens her door and steps outside, and I before I realize it my hand is on the handle of my door and I've opened it. I slip off of my seat and hit the concrete outside. Devin starts to snore and Angie knocks him with her elbow. I shout over all the noise. "Some of us are going on for the third time while others stepped off already. Hopping on and off, but always repeating the same path. Where am I? What's going on? Carol?"

"Did you get a good night's rest?" I hear sirens blaring all around me.

When we're driving down the freeway there is nothing to look at except the cars that pass by the window. Staring out the window, I look at the mountains not too far off and see smoke flowing from chimney tops from houses and factories. The smoke piles out into the air and almost seems to suffocate the air. Some how, the freeway seems to go on forever. Does it even have an end? As I look up I notice that the smoky pollution see to mimic the gray pavement below it. It's like…the sky decided to stop reflecting the water to reflect something darker. The sky isn't all gray though. Today it looks like the sky is collapsing on me. Something inside my heart tells me that above the smoke is the blue sky that I long to see.

Sometimes I wish that I could reach that blue sky, but you have to build your own wings and try you're hardest to reach the unreachable. That's what I did that day as I fell out of the backseat I stood up and looked at the sky, stepping out into the middle of the freeway. As fast as I could, I went running, my legs cramping as soon as my journey began. This isn't happening, I told myself. I'm going to wake up and do all of this over again so there isn't anything to worry about, right? So I ran down the freeway, past the cars, and the smoke, beating my wings down by my sides hoping for the wind to blow underneath them, granting lift.

To my surprise the wind pulled me off of the ground and I could see Carol staring up at the sky with a perplexing frown on her face. I spread my wings as far out as I could, soaring higher and higher above the freeway. So high above the slowest driver in the world, the boss's daughter, the childish dreamer, and the human cat that never wakes, and yet…the smoke quickly entered my lungs and I began to cough. My eyes shut tight as I drowned in the air, and I fell back down to the hard ground. Blood spills, bones break, spirits soar…and then…

"Hey, you idiot, we're here already. And you say I never pay attention to anything just because I take a twenty minute nap in the car." Devin rolled his eyes as I looked away from the window. A small splotch of blood where I hit my head dried on the handle of the door. I can sense the awkward tension in the car between the five of us. For some reason, I feel like I should say something but my mouth just opens and closes, uselessly.

"You fell asleep right in the middle of our conversation, too."

I rub my temple with the my fingertips and head off to work.

And then…

"Stop the car!" I scream. "Kyle, come on, stop the car!"

The car screams to a halt and Kyle looks back at me, confused. "What's going on? We're in the middle of the freeway. Oh god, we're going to get hit if I stay parked here." He panics but I yell at him to not drive on any further than he already has gone. "What's the meaning of this?"

Devin stirs and looks up. "Man, what's going on?"

I fumble with the lock on the door beside me. When I get it undone, the door won't seem to open. I push with all my force and it opens. I fall out and land in the middle of the freeway, slamming the door to close everyone out of my life for the last time. Carol opens her door afterward and looks over at me.

"What's going on, Greg?" She shouts over the noise of the cars around us. "Why did you tell Kyle to stop the car? Get back inside before something horrible happens. We might get hit! Come on, why are you just standing there? At least say something Greg!"

"What do you think of?"

"What?"

"When you look out the window."

"What are you talking about?"

I stare at her, then look ahead of me and start running. My legs hurt almost immediately after I start sprinting down the never-ending freeway. Closing my eyes, I imagine two wings beating down at my sides lifting me into the air. And then I stop running and look up. The sky is so gray and mysterious. Do I really want to go up there? What if I'm not supposed to reach the blue above me? Maybe I'm not. It's too much of an effort anyway. Blood spills, bones break, and spirits soar. What a rush. I stop and turn around to head back.

And then it hits me.