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October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
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See The Dark

Twenties-060713

Another tree is down.

I’m driving down Lakewood Avenue, figuring that maybe, just maybe, the tree that blocked the middle of North Lake Drive has been removed, and I can go through. After all, they had a whole day. I’m sure things have been taken care of.

As I get closer, I peer to see if there is any yellow tape. Don’t see any… great. And then my headlights shine on masses of black-green and shadow and black. Something huge. Blocking the entrance to North Lake Drive.

Another tree is down.

How did that happen? How? The car in front of me slowly does a u-turn. I pull over to the side of the road and park. I’ve come here to my favorite spot to write. If I can’t continue on when I’m done, well, ok. I open my laptop and turn off the engine.

And then the car parked behind me drives away. And suddenly I am left in a blackness so intense that…

Something feels wrong. Very wrong. As if the universe has… shifted somehow, with some gigantic force battling that of the familiar gravity. It feels insecure. I am tired, but suddenly the past ten minutes of driving fall sharply through my brain.

I’d pulled out hastily, intent on my destination. So the streets were dark? Well, that’s night. But…

Why was there so much traffic?

Why was it so hard to see everything?

Blinded traffic lights, as if their eyes gouged out, swinging crazily from their posts. Be careful, be careful… don’t just drive, kid. Right. Careful. Driving is instinct, and I don’t notice all that much. Could do it in my sleep. Sometimes I do think I’m half sleeping.

But then I drive down Lakewood Avenue, thinking that by now order would surely have been restored.

And I find this monolith sprawled across the road, casting eerie shadows unfamiliar to my cozy streets.

It’s not the tree that bothers me. Not the detour. It’s… these things just aren’t supposed to happen. If a tree, intended to stand calmly in its place on the side of the road, as it has done so for a hundred or so years, now falls across the lake road… what is happening? It makes me uneasy.

Cars are coming, and coming, whizzing down the silent road. Each stops, and stares, and slowly makes a u-turn. None of these cars, none of them, can do anything before this tree. Just a tree. A piece of nature. But now they are nothing, these mighty machines that tear down highways. The tree is stronger.

The chaos is stronger.

Now it is black, very black. In my tiredness, I feel it not as fear, but as… something, strange and sinister, creeping insidiously around me. Something is wrong, though it wills me to think all is right.

I jerk my head right and left. There are no cars in sight, not a one. Why is it so dark? Why? Street lights, kid. There are usually street lights. Oh. My eyes scan the treetops. There are no lights.

And suddenly I know that the world as I know it is not really the world. The world as I know it is a man-made world, full of strange and incredible devices that bend nature to our will. It works, each gear grinding in place, so smoothly that I don’t even hear the sound.

But now, sitting here, in the blackest black of night, I know a different reality. I see the trees, giants that they are, looming up before the deeper blackness of the lake. They are there, and they have been there, long before any of us was born. The blackness of night is greater, and stronger, then any man-made light that muzzles it on other nights. Tonight the blackness is freed, filling all space with the force of its natural might.

This is real, kid. Open your eyes to the blackness, cause this is real.

Part of me wants to turn the car back on, and drive away to human-place, the hideaways that still have electricity and light and plumbing.

But part of me wants to stay here, and just feel… insignificant. To feel the might of the trees above me, the might of infinite dark that presses and enfolds all the world in its grasp… and the endless night sky which sends it forth to wrap us.

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Miri was a special child.

I didn’t know that at first. She had thick, dark hair, round face, and a slow smile. “I’m six,” she said.

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Another tree is down.

I’m driving down Lakewood Avenue, figuring that maybe, just maybe, the tree that blocked the middle of North Lake Drive has been removed, and I can go through. After all, they had a whole day. I’m sure things have been taken care of.

The taxi driver was old and rather shriveled, with a crop of white hair fringing his head.

Ah, I recognize this one, I thought with relief, hurrying to open the door. If I recall correctly, he knows Lakewood. You would think that a taxi driver, being that his/her job is, well, driving, and being that the town they are driving in is, well, Lakewood…

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/teens-twenties/see-the-dark/2013/06/07/

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