It was a three-hour drive from Yakima, Washington to Seattle, Washington. I’d drive to Seattle to go shopping or to Ft. Lewis when I was in the National Guard or get away from it all. I had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the military. It happened in a fuel truck rollover during a training accident with a fire involved. With my anxiety disorder, my body tensed when a pack of cars flew by or stayed behind me until I pumped my brakes. And then they’d get past me. And I could release the panic in my chest. I’d been fine enjoying the evergreen trees and the scent of pine hanging in the air.
I’d asked a woman to marry me—much to my surprise, she agreed. Angie, that’s her name, used to drive with me to Seattle. We’d talk about life, politics, and even religion. We’d have sex in one of those rest stop areas (in the car, of course). On one of our trips, she got pregnant.
When Angie was in the car, the smooth road carried us the distance, and slow jams played on the radio, and windshield wipers batted the forest rain, slapping the windshield.
Angie’s parents lived in Seattle, and we got married near the Space Needle. I had a teaching job in Yakima, so we didn’t move to Seattle, but we drove there to live near the downtown plaza. We had an apartment in both Yakima and Seattle.
After Angie gave birth to Ava, she took the baby to see her parents as I worked for the week. But on the way there, a drunk driver slammed into her car head-on, and she died. My daughter died, too. One day she was here, and the next, not. I went to Seattle, the same freeway we always traveled. The same highway we lost our virginity along and the same road took us to take our vows. And the same route we all said goodbye on.
(© 2021 Andrew Cyr)