She is hours late heading for home. Hours at work underpaid and unappreciated. There is one reward, the highway is nearly deserted, the clot of cars long past through the veins of the city.
Blazing blood-orange sunset in her rear-view, she presses the pedal down and guides the Toyota between the dotted white lines. She made a promise to herself long ago to leave work at work and uses her commute to clear her mind. Her internal street sweeper was not selective; all worries ended up in the gutter to be washed out to sea. Responsibilities present and future become a mere blur in her periphery, inconsequential as mile markers. All that exists is the highway, the car and her will to move it forward.
The asphalt churns beneath the tires like cogs in the great machinery of time. Her vision tunnels; she focuses on the horizon and eases the pedal lower. The hum of the tires grows choppy and the suspension compensates as the smooth blacktop becomes ridged and is overtaken by cobblestones. On either side of the road, great stands of pines spring forth like tidal waves, drowning overpasses and billboards before breaking along the shore of the road. Towering trunks with needled branches that scrape the sky.
She nudges the gas, the cobblestones give way to cart path, dirt track then animal trail. Lush ferns and palms choke out the pines and edge in so close they slap against the windows and pluck at her antenna. The Toyota lumbers over the mossy terrain as insects the size of her fist engage in a losing battle with her windshield. She twists on the wipers to whisk their carcasses away.
The vegetation falls back and she is now charging through a clearing, tall grass thrashing the undercarriage. A wide river cuts a course to the south, Brontosaurs grazing at the swampy banks. She rolls down the window and fills her lungs with humid air, extends her arm and dances her fingers in the buffeting breeze. To the north, she hears a low bellow and the Brontosaurs raise their massive heads on necks thick as bridge cables to answer the call in unison.
Rolling hills spread before her where the grasses thin out and hard-packed sand takes over. Shimmering through the heat in the distance are the mountains, jutting out of the earth like the spine of creation, dark and red as copper. She knows that if she ever makes it to those mountains, she will be lost to the world forever, nothing more than an artifact.
There is a rumbling from the cup-holder. She reaches for the cell phone, her husband’s name displayed on the screen. Cresting the hill she sees her exit ahead. Smiling, she answers the phone.