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The Night of Seven Miles
By Sparrow Goddess
That night was a Wednesday. I could not bear to sleep. I feared I would not wake up. So instead I laced up my sneakers and walked. All I had on me was a fanny pack and a water bottle.
I walked seven miles from my house to my lover's. I did not have a car then, but even if I had, I would not have used it. I needed to remind myself that I was alive. I would not die in my sleep because I was healthy. I could take deep breaths and long strides. I was the picture of a fit youth.
Those seven miles were not leisurely ones. Back then, we lived in an area never intended for pedestrians. It was a kingdom of SUVs and city buses at the end of their routes. Sidewalks were available less than half of the way and were, for the most part, broken. Fragments of pavement dipped in and out at odd angles, forming the perfect place to twist an ankle block after block. The streetlights were another matter. The few that lit my precarious path were dim. I bore witness to two lights flicker and burn out, putting an end to whatever moth party had been going down in their vicinity.
The first time I heard a human voice that didn't come from a car radio, it came from a lusty taxi driver. He was filling up at a gas station and I was shuffling past him as quickly as I could. He asked if I needed a ride, but we both knew what he was implying. He slapped the top of his car to catch my attention. I pretended not to understand him. Not knowing English did not seem too odd in a neighborhood full of immigrants. Instead, I kept walking, preferring to be confused for an aimless traveler than a restless girl walking seven miles in the middle of the night for no good reason.
I endured a couple of car horns and cat calls later on, but, mostly, my walk was a silent one. It was so quiet that I detected the slightest rustling of bushes off of the road. It was a possum trying to decide if he wanted to cross four lanes. When he saw me, he thought against it and disappeared into the shrubs.
I had never seen the shopping centers so empty. I had never seen this road with so few cars. For the first time in a long time, I could actually appreciate the sound of silence. Somewhere a pin dropped and a Honda Pilot didn't rush to crush it.
When I got to my lover's house, I played out the scene from a thousand movies. I threw pebbles at his window. At first, this adolescent action yielded no response. I tried again. Nothing. While my muscles burned, he was tucked in, dreaming. Then I got the idea to scratch his window screen. That woke him up. He ambled to his front door, opened it, stared at me for a good moment, and then took me in his arms. From there, I crawled into his bed and finally fell asleep.