"You wanted to accept everything. So accept madness too. Let the light of your madness shine, and it will suddenly dawn on you. Madness is not to be despised and not to be feared, but instead you should give it life..."
The police car is hidden in the juniper, and Caroline does not notice it until she has already gone hurtling past, pedal to the metal down the gritty, pothole-riddled highway toward Bassing. It peels off into the road, sirens blaring after her, and Jonathan smirks in the passenger seat.
I told you there was no rush, he says, somewhere behind her ear. You are in the void now, Caro. We have as much time as we will ever need.
The first pull-out is around the bend, on the other side of the road, but Caroline crosses into it anyway, the gravel crunching beneath her wheels as she slows and finally stops. The flashing lights of the police car whiz right past her.
Stupid pig, Jonathan sniggers behind her other ear this time, and Caroline can't suppress a little smile, even as her heart pounds. She rolls down the window and waits several minutes with her hands on the wheel until the car comes screaming back her way, this time veering over to stop behind her. The officer is an older man, clean-shaven with white hair, and he gets out of his car with a hand poised on his taser, which amuses Jonathan to no end.
"I'm not going to ask you if you have any idea how fast you were going," he says as he approaches her window, "since I don't think anybody who goes that fast on a road like this has no idea."
She sees him do a double-take when he looks at her and flashes him her prettiest smile.
"Well, look at you," he says. "License." She hands it to him, and he glances it over before holding it up against her face. "Now I have no doubt you've got yourself a perfect little sweetheart waiting for you, Caroline, and you don't want to keep him waiting too much longer. But you listen to me: you hit yourself one of those potholes at that kind of speed, and he'll be seeing you next in the hospital. And that's if you're lucky."
Caroline puts on her best hang-dog face. "I know," she says bashfully. "I just forgot something very important at home this morning." She indicates the silver and turquoise choker at her neck, which Michael bought her in Santa Barbara six months ago. "It was my mother's. I just...it means so much to me. And I wanted to feel like...like she was with me today, you know? And now I'm running late, and I can't even get a signal out here, and I'd just hate it for Michael to worry, you know?" She smiles again, "But you are right, officer. I wasn't thinking."
Beside her, Jonathan is howling with laughter. You sly bitch! There's the girl I loved, he whoops from somewhere in her gut.
The cop smiles back at her and returns her license. "Well, I get it," he says. "Believe it or not, I was young and reckless once myself. But there's nothing like a car accident to get your priorities sorted out, let me tell you. Now, Caroline, I am going to let you off with a warning because I appreciate that you waited and you cooperated, and I would sure hate to make a lady later than she needs to be for her own wedding. But you be smart on that road, you hear?"
"Of course, officer. Thank you for the warning. I will be sure to be more careful the rest of the way."
"All right. You have a good day there, Caroline. And congratulations."
She waits until he is gone to pull back out onto the road. Now just take it easy, Jonathan says in the ball of her foot as she gently pushes the gas. No one is coming after us. They'll never figure you've gone this far.