BY LYDIA A. CYRUS
I was falling asleep while she was driving. This isn’t a surprise. To me or her. Something about being in a car, in the passenger seat, for longer than an hour puts me to sleep. The lines and signs are reflecting the headlights and occasionally I see them. Though most often I don’t. The sound coming through the radio is a story. One about a missing woman who is presumed to be dead.
She disappeared from some place that is cold. Some place that isn’t here. Her children go into foster care and are adopted and their adoptive parents might be Satanists. It is said that they had a well deep within their kitchen that they slaughter pigs over. The bones of other animals end up at the bottom of the well. The police said so. All of this is what I hear as I close my eyes and drift. Occasionally she asks me a question or makes a remark about the story. I agree and I continued to nod off. My chin resting in my hand, elbow propped next to the window.
It sounds like a plot from horror movie, but it isn’t. It happened. To a woman in her twenties who lived somewhere where it was cold. She disappeared. She’s likely dead now. There is no comfort for any of us. Me, sleeping for intervals of minutes, and her driving us home after a day of being tourists. Then she asks what would you do?
She means, what would you do if you saw a ghost? I think for a moment and I answer honestly. Sleep deprived and exhausted I have nothing but the truth to offer. I tell her that I would want a one-way ticket to the Mayo Clinic. For shock therapy. Because I know that I cannot live with that. That I could not function living with the image of a ghost. Any ghost. We laugh.
Not because shock therapy is something we want—that anyone wants—but because it’s true. Because neither of us could do it. The heat rises up from our feet to our faces and we’re quiet again. I’m sleeping. When awake, I watch the signs appear like a man made moon on the roadside. Then I watch the white lines run underneath us. To the side of the road everything is dark. Pitch black. But somewhere in the darkness there is a woman whose body is cold because she disappeared. Because she disappeared from a place that is cold. She can hear us as we listen to her story. Two young women, close friends, driving across the Illinois border, going home. We haven’t disappeared but we have seen something that will never vanish.
Lydia A. Cyrus is a creative nonfiction writer and poet from Huntington, West Virginia. Her work as been featured in Thoreau's Rooster, Adelaide Literary Magazine, The Albion Review, and Luna Luna. Her essay "We Love You Anyway," was featured in the 2017 anthology Family Don't End with Blood which chronicles the lives of fans and actors from the television show Supernatural. She lives and works in Huntington where she spends her time being politically active and volunteering. She is a proud Mountain Woman who strives to make positive change in Southern Appalachia. She enjoys the color red and all things Wonder Woman related! You can usually find her walking around the woods and surrounding areas as she strives to find solitude in the natural world. Twitter: @lydiaacyrus