Cars as far as anyone could see ahead and as far behind. This was to be expected, a tax for driving. Three or four snuck through on green when the signals changed but only to the next stalled stack, never to open road. Although we had all driven here deliberately, nobody wanted to be in this place long enough to look at it. We wanted it behind us. With clear highway ahead we might have felt less vagrant, but stuck on hot black asphalt between a service station and a comically cheerful liquor store at the intersection of who can remember and please don’t remind me, we couldn’t pretend we were headed anywhere. The car to my right was so close I could hear the driver grinding her teeth. The driver to my left was spinning his steering wheel pointlessly back and forth. We sat through two light changes without moving. I had spent a small dog’s lifetime trying to follow a metaphorical map, rushing without looking through years as forsaken as this crossroads. Now, sitting here in a sealed container which, because it wasn’t moving, had become my world, I was gagging on my own spent breath. A driver pulled into the intersection with nowhere to go and shut his engine off. His one car going nowhere by choice amid hundreds of cars going nowhere out of necessity seemed thrilling and defiant. Otherwise people get killed, I thought, when drivers with tempers feel trapped and blame other drivers. I shed my seat belt and pulled myself up through the moon roof. Standing on the seat with my shoulders, head, and chest released from the car, I squinted toward my destination and tried to picture myself happy there, climbed out, left the engine idling, and walked away from it all.

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