at the end of it all / by laurel

Twenty-seven times I drove past the bridge last summer. Only once did I drive across it.

It always appears out of thin air where the 134 Freeway teeters on the edge of the foothills and flanks the declivitous upturned skirt of the valley. The patchy neighborhoods below disappear and in their place the bridge reveals itself from the murky depths, ever-elusive Nessie arches and plunging slopes. Its architecture stands in marked departure from the area surrounding it--all planes and graphs and computer-generated arteries that bleed messily into other freeways, other cities, other geometric equations.

But this bridge recedes into the smudged bruise-colored landscape, the graceful curve of a woman's collarbone, traced between erect shoulders and choked in a shimmering strand of incandescent bulbs. There are never any cars along its mysterious path, no evidence that human hands ever touched its stone infrastructure. Oftentimes I wondered if it truly existed; a fractal filament, a glitch in the system of time and atrophy.

It was near the end of August, and the day had unfolded with exacting vapidity, sun up to sun down, each passing hour as flat and predictable as the one before it. Traffic was humming along, the expressionless masses hurtling toward a similar conclusion; dinner at eight in the suburbs. The voices of rubber against cement offered little to the conversation but a banal cacophony to augment the collective subconscious. I wanted silence.

Veering sharply to the right, I exited the party with hardly a wave goodbye. Trusting only my instincts (an unpredictable mate, at best), I followed the path of the road through stop lights and intersections and past gas stations and houses until they dissolved with a shush. I was alone on the bridge now, wading through the breathing darkness that surrounded me from all sides. I hurtled through the cosmos, hearing nothing--not even the sound of my tires against the pavement--just the blanketed sigh of early evening. Every fifteen feet a new moon rose and and set, its' light matched only by the glow of instruments on my dashboard. If there really were a glitch in the fabric of time, I had plaited myself into its continuous pull.

Soon the summer would be over. Soon Fall would come and the leaves would turn brown. Soon I would meet the 134 freeway again and conclude the conversation I started on my way home. But for the time being, the waning days of summer would last forever on the worn pavement of that bridge.

Here's a mix for the end of summer, for the Last Days, for the times when the day has played itself out on repeat and you feel yourself on the cusp of change.