Highway Chapter 4
I awoke to the soft rays of the sun lighting up the inside of my eyelids. Rubbing my eyes drowsily, I stretched. I padded into the living room of my humble abode turned on the television. “Nothing is on, like usual.” I think to myself. I flicked lazily through the channels, attempting to find some form of entertainment. I gave up on the effort.
I have this house because the mayor felt bad that my parents had died, and then later on he wanted me out of the way. He said I could have the one bedroom apartment on the edge of town for free as long as I didn’t break the law. I get cable because they fear my wrath if it was cut off.
I got dressed, picking an outfit I designed to stand out. I snickered as I thought of the faces of the people today. The reaction was more entertaining than television.
I grabbed my iPod and turn to my favorite song, blasting it out of my headphones without a care. Pulling my hair into a ponytail and grabbing a granola bar for breakfast, I strolled out of the door. I commenced the usual walk around the neighborhood, my head high with an expression of arrogance and disdain. I knew I was different then these people, and I was grateful. But even as I strutted through the town, something seemed different. Everyone had gone, and the streets were barren. There was only the shop boy.
“Oi, idiot!,” I say, “Where the hell is everyone?”
He jumped, and reluctantly turned to me.
“I-I th-think they are w-watching the st-stranger by the g-gates.” He meekly replied, almost trembling.
I took off in that direction. Sure enough, there seemed to be a crowd, although they were widespread and not concentrated. Nobody even noticed my approach, a first in my life. “What is this all about?” I wondered to myself. The air had a strange feeling to it, one of confusion and fear. It’s as if the atmosphere had the texture of being heavy. A baby started to cry, but was shushed by its mother. The silence among the people was almost palpable. They all seemed to gravitate towards the building in front of them, our local bar. Strangers are rare, but they never cause a reaction like this.
I opened the door to the bar and quietly stepped inside. The quiet was unnerving, and I was suddenly cautious. Everyone in here might as well be dead, for there were no signs of life. All bar conversation has stopped, and all eyes are on the stranger sitting at the bar. I couldn’t get a good look at him for he was in the shadows of the drink shelf, but it wasn’t necessary to see him to feel what it was that caused the quiet. Everything about the man seemed different. He had a foreign aura about him, as though he was a different species. There was a feeling in my stomach that I couldn’t quite name, and it fluttered every time my eyes looked to the figure. “What the hell was up with this guy?” I questioned myself. He appeared to be tranquil despite being able to feel what must have been 20 stares inside the bar.
Something about these peoples behavior made me angry. It irked me that they were just staring at the stranger in town, even though he had a strange influence. It reminded me of my younger years, the stares, the curiosity, and the unnatural quiet when I came around. Everyone who was the slightest bit different was suddenly an alien creature. I couldn’t stand it anymore. Why was I being so uncharacteristically muted and submissive? I would not be confused with these ordinary people, and I would not let them do this to another person.
I cleared my throat loudly. Nobody blinked an eye, but then the stranger turned, and my breath caught in my throat. Finally clear from the shadows, I could now see his features. Cropped brown hair lay atop his head, filled with natural blonde highlights. He had light stubble spread across his lower jaw, interrupting the smooth texture of his skin. Almost a golden brown, it glowed radiantly in the sunlight. His bone structure wasn’t sharp, only rough, as if he spent days outside. And his eyes were so absolutely piercing, I could feel my soul as if I had taken it and cut it into pieces of cloth for use in my wardrobe. Blue, but dark, as if his pupils had decided to fade into them. They reflected so many things I had never seen before, and I wondered to myself what it would feel like to delve into those and just submerge yourself into the depths. He was, by many standards, handsome. He looked to be about 25, although I couldn’t be sure.
His eyebrows seemed to half rise at me, as if I had suddenly become intriguing. Realizing that since he was looking at me, so was everyone else, I mentally shook myself out of it. Tearing my eyes away from him I felt that anger return.
“Hey, you lazy asses!” I barked out, “What the hell is wrong with you? Don’t you have anything better to do than sit on your butts all day? Jobs to get to? People’s lives to ruin? Get out of here!”
I tried to look menacing, and took a step towards the nearest table. There were murmurs from around the room and people started to get up and leave. I had caused a stir in the silence, and broken the strange magic that had enveloped the town. The stranger was still looking at me, but I pretended not to notice. Unsure of what to do now that the bar crowd had mostly cleared out and was diminishing by the second, I turned to leave.
“Wait. Can I talk to you? I just need a few minutes of your time, I promise.” He said in a mildly gruff but beautifully toned voice.
I was startled by the sudden question. I turned around to see him languidly walking over to me. With each step closer, that strange feeling in my stomach grew, until I realized that it was the same feeling I get when I visit the forests. That empty yearning feeling that I couldn’t comprehend. What connection did this man have with such a personal part of my life?
As he got closer, I realized just how big this man was. His figure was muscular, but not overly so. It was strong, but compact and concentrated. I only reached the top of his shoulder. He was wearing blue jeans, and a light jacket the color of jade with a white t-shirt underneath. His shoes were worn leather, and they were covered in dust. A person would have to walk on a trail for weeks to get shoes that dusty. Realizing he was waiting for an answer, my brain scrambled for a reason to avoid his request. Finding none, I just replied with a non committal shrug. He smiled, showing off a row of perfect teeth, and gestured to the bar.
“Come on,” he said, “I’ll buy you a drink.”
I followed, not quite sure what was about to happen. We sat down at the nearest table, alone in the empty bar except for the staff. He folded his hands in front of him, and directed his gaze to my eyes.
“Let me tell you about a little something I like to call the truth.”