Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Tilt.

He’s back—the man who haunts my dreams. I never see his face, but he’s there, right there next to me.

The Long-Awaited Honest-to-God Secret to Being Happy

We’re going somewhere. We have to get from here to there. But  we don’t  know  where  “there”  is. It’s  some place we’ve never been. We sit with a group of …what are  they?…who are  they? Guides  of  some  sort.  They’re busy and focused and determined.

We’re in a War Room with our guides, plotting out the next step on maps and computer screens and table- tops. The guides don’t tell us where to go but they’re doing their best to show us how to get there.

The maps are too complicated. Too many maps. Lots of possibilities and options. Yet we both know the very building where we want to end up…if we can find it. We know how this building looks,  this place we’re headed. And we are trying to find it together. With all these guides trying desperately to help us separately and to help us together.

Finally, finally, there is a plan. We climb into a car— his, I think—and head out onto the road in daylight. He has a GPS tracking system in his car—which is why I assume the  car must  be his  rather  than mine,  because  I don’t have a tracker, but I do have a cell phone to my ear to hear the guides back in the War Room, clamoring back and forth on the speaker phone. We quickly are in a place full of streets and  highways. So many roads full of cars and empty of cars. So many options. We could take any one of those roads and end up whose knows where!

“Which way?” he asks me. “Which road do I take?”

But I don’t know. The guides can hear him, though, and I hear them over the cell phone as they scramble to come up with answers.

He doesn’t have time to think. He has to move, move, move or he’ll  be flattened where he is. Maybe me with him. He jets across the highway to a less dangerous street and sighs his relief. Yet neither of us is content with this new road. He moreso than I. I know he won’t stay on it for  long  and he’s unsure of any intersections  ahead but we just keep going for now. It’s okay, but we both know it doesn’t lead directly to the place we’re trying to get to. It’s a detour. And it’s getting dark.

And then this road comes to a dead end, even though we can see other roads all around us and few intersect.

“Which way?” I ask the guides over the cell phone. “Wait,” some say.

“Just keep moving,” others say.

But there are no firm answers  and we can’t just stay where we are here or we’ll be swept along in the wrong direction.

“Which way?” he asks. It’s night. We’re lost. We’re both so lost and we know what our destination looks like but we can get there from  here. “Find   !” a guide shouts to me over the phone. Only I can hear his instruction to look for a specific road. And the name of the road is very clear, though I’ll not say it here.

I tell him to look for the road, but he doesn’t know how to find it. He’s familiar with it, but not sure how to get there.

“We can’t stay here,” he says. “We have to get off this road—soon!”  The  guides  don’t  have  an  answer  yet. They’re  looking, scrambling to read their maps and give me a good answer.

“There!” I shout. I point to a street ahead. It’s not the road to look for but I know the general direction to our destination and it’s the only  one that looks like it might take us near there. “Try that road!”

“Is it the right road?”

“I don’t know. But it leads somewhere.”

He guns  the engine  and off we go down the busy street that shortly takes us into the countryside. No more cars. No more city. It’s  quiet out here. And dark. Our headlights are the only evidence of  movement out here. We’re moving  away from our destination  now. It’s  not unpleasant here, but it’s not where we need to end up.

I ask  the  guides  for  answers  but  they  have  none. They’re still  scrambling. They ask if we’ve seen the specific road that will take us to our destination.  I tell them no, and it’s not in this direction.

He fumbles with his GPS system but it’s either still not working or he doesn’t know how to use it. He can’t get his bearings.

“Which way?” he asks.

But I’m at a loss, too, for which way to go. I’m directionally challenged. I judge my way by landmarks and instinct, and sometimes by the direction of the light, but I don’t have an instinct for the four  directions and that’s what he’s asking.

“This isn’t the way,”  I tell him. “Turn  around.  Go

back toward where we started.”

He doesn’t argue that we’ve gone so far down this path. Or that we have to turn around. He knows it’s what we have to do and that no other road would have been any better in the night.

In the midst of the dark countryside, he does a U- turn.  Eventually,  we see lights on the horizon and then on the road as we emerge from the darkness. It’s becoming morning.

I note a big sign ahead. It’s a sign for the street the

guides had said to look for. I couldn’t have seen it last night in the dark. It’s the street that leads to our destination.

“Tell him to turn on his tracking system,” the guides tell me over the cell phone. “It should be working now. He should be able to find his way now.”

I relay  the  message,  and  he  fiddles  with  the  GPS tracker. A digital map appears on the console between us, showing the location of where we’re to end up.

“His tracking system is working,” I tell the guides, and I have to laugh when I hear them cheering  in the back- ground. “Now take your  GPS unit and slap it onto the exact building we’re going to so we won’t get lost again!” They laugh and say they will.

He drives  fast now,  heading  toward  the destination that blinks like a beacon, calling to him. We round the corner and I can see it ahead, the outline of the building.

The sun is in my eyes.


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