19 December 2014

Short Story number 12

Short Story number 12: Inspired by the song «What are we gonna do» by Glen Hansard from the solo album Rhythm and Repose. 

Through the slightly smudged car windows, the sifting peculiarities of the landscape, flashed before her attentive eyes, like the picture frames of an old motion picture. As the car rapidly progressed on the road, those changes became gradually more visible and easily recognizable. Comfortably seated on the passenger’s seat, and although feeling a bit weary from the long drive, she still managed to maintain her senses on alert mode to absorb all the changes, like a curious and enthusiastic spectator.
Clearly the focus of her attention was outside. Yet, on one occasion, when she temporarily leant back on her seat, to relieve the back discomfort caused by the long seating hours, she was able to furtively observe, by the corner of her eye, her road trip companion. Against the bright light of the day, only the outline of his face could be perceived, but as someone who profoundly understood his body language, she could guess, by the way he curved his shoulders and clenched the steering wheel, that he was tense. She was sure that if she looked directly at him she would see two deeply carved wrinkles on his forehead, right between the eyebrows, shaping an odd frown, which was one of the most reliable indicators of the state of his mood.
Having confirmed her suspicions she directed again her attention to what was happening outside. This was one of the typical diverting maneuvers, that were part of a complex strategy, created and refined by her, in order to avoid or try to postpone, for as long as she could, the inevitability of having to deal with every kind of painful situations that came her way.  But no matter as bad as she wanted to ignore the tension lingering in the air, her intuition could not be so easily fooled, so she instinctively adjusted her body language to the present situation and assumed a protecting position by crossing her arms in front of her.
Ever since he got his driving license, he discovered that driving for long periods of time always had a relaxing and soothing effect upon him. So, every time he felt on the verge of being swept away by anxiety and his thoughts were dangerously becoming an incoherent mush, he would get on his car and drive without a specific destination. He considered that, there was nothing as therapeutic as being on the road, driving, with the car windows opened all the way down, just for the pleasure of feeling the wind on his face until his eyes eventually started to tear. He could not remember of a better way to pull oneself together and to restore one’s faith in life, than to indulge one’s sense of freedom by having an open road right in front of us, along with the illusory sensation of leaving everything behind.
He raised his hand to readjust the rearview mirror, but before he returned to his initial position, he noticed, by the corner of his eye, that she had crossed her arms in front of her. He knew her too well to understand that such a controlled posture, like that one, was unnatural, to someone as extroverted and straightforward as her. The only occasion, that he saw her bearing such a withdrawn behavior, was when she was feeling vulnerable and insecure.  Although her long hair was covering most of her face, not allowing him a clear observation of her face, he was certain, that if he was able to see it, she would probably have her left eyebrow slightly raised above its natural angle, forming a distinctive and perfect arch.
Ultimately, throughout the course of their relationship, they both became specialists in each other’s non-verbal language, which they carefully learned to interpret, to the point of consider it to be much more assertive and reliable, in conveying a message, than, actually, words. However, lately, most of those unspoken messages had been sending them some mixed signals and warning signs, indicating that things were not the same between them, and that the natural complicity that they used to share had been slowly eroding, leaving them exposed and vulnerable. Still, following this initial stage of trying to deny the facts by hiding behind an elaborate plan of excuses and fallacies, it was now time for them to face reality as it was and not as it should be.
He concentrated his attention on the road again. Suddenly, to her surprise, he unexpectedly broke the motionless pattern, in which he had been immersed for the last couple of hours, and opened the car windows all the way down, allowing the wind gusts play with their hair.
He looked at her surprised face and realized that she had abandoned the protective posture and uncrossed her arms. To catch her of guard was the best way to throw her a lifeline that would pull her back to him and away from the dark places that sometimes lured her.
She was now rearranging her messy hair and trying to regain her composure.
She was smiling. He was smiling.
A smile is always a good starting point for everything, she thought. 

 By Raquel R.

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