He had never known freedom like this: the vast empty cradle of America unfurled across the windshield, the desert valley kissing the clouds, and the great highway painted on the rocky soil. Yet, he had never known freedom at all: a shotgun in his trunk, his bloody shirt sticking to his skin, and the corpse in his passenger seat. The country was lovely. From untouched landscapes ravaged by rivers and storms, to all-American red rocks, to the wind whispering sweet couplets from the sunlit corners of the continent in his ears, life was a painting in motion.
For him driving was like breathing, but not like the natural pulse of a human, in and out, again and again. Instead, it was like holding a breath. Breathing in, again and again until the gas ran out. Never exhaling. Never letting go. So no, his driving was nothing like breathing. And if his driving was nothing like breathing, yet remarkably similar to breathing, then his lungs were stunningly beautiful. His crimson convertible was spotless. Its shining exterior reflected the landscapes and deep colors of the desert. In truth, it was his only real love. Some people had marriages and others had sports cars. He had sports cars.
Now, there was one thing wrong with this scene. Despite his well-groomed and greased hair, the firm yet soft leather seats, he still was not comfortable. Something was out of place. It was like there was one atom, one single atom turned the wrong way, facing away from him. But how could that be? The world was open for play, and he was the perfect child: free of any concern. But still, he had never known freedom at all. He turned his eyes toward the body next to him.
It was a sun-washed cadaver that sat next to him. As far as bodies went, this one was relatively clean, tucked surgically into the passenger seat. She had similarly colored hair to him, a sandy blonde, except it had a darker undertone than his. Her mouth lay softened in the hot dry air, hanging open, like she was going to ask about where they were going. Her tongue lay barren on top of her face, like how a wasteland sprawls across a country. Her eyelids pushed heavily toward her cheek. She once had a youthful face, stamped out by the ghastly pale complexion that now adorned her skin. There was nothing particularly notable about her body. She had arms and legs. She had very clean fingernails and blue veins that crawled across every part of her. She had massive holes in her chest, and shotgun wounds that peppered her now crimson top. He never meant to do it, if that helped. It was just what happened.
He looked forward again toward the sun and the dark reds of the continent. His blonde hair blowing in the wind, a bright yellow star in his windshield, and a single hand on the steering wheel, he still felt something was wrong. Whatever the matter was, he thought he had found the solution. He stopped the car. His hands pulled on the handle and he walked out onto the deep colors of the country. Now, he looked over the evening sky. The car was parked on a cliff and the cold, dry air at that height surrounded him. Everything surrounded him.
He grabbed the body. With both hands, he dragged the corpse across the orange of the American Southwest and split the ground in two with a deep crimson line. The sky was getting darker. The outline of the moon was in view. As he painted the ground with the body, he got closer and closer to the cliff. The continent itself seemed to hum, vibrate with a frequency that brought peace, like the earth beneath his feet was singing and the desert rock bursting with a hidden rhythm. It was like a funeral song, meant to bring closure, defined by long lyrical lines. But at the same time, it could have been a bird’s song, erratic and joyous. It could have been both.
He tossed the body. As she fell, as the orange sun dimmed, as the desert valley sang its song, it was as if she woke up. It was like her eyes pushed against gravity and opened up to the vast cradle of America around her. There, she lived, suspended and weightless. Weightless and free.
He looked around the valley. He had never known freedom at all. But for now, she would.