The Ride by I.W.

Sitting behind the warm steering wheel the game begins

Level one.

It starts of easy. Neighborhoods and passing cars, one hand lies gently on the leather liner. My left knee propped up against the door. My eyes trickle between the road and radio. The speakers leak the music I keep trapped inside my phone. He keeps his distance.

Level two.

Pedestrians start to cross the streets. My heart speeds up as they reach the edge of the sidewalk. Are they gonna go? My impatience increases and my heart rate starts to go up. The voice inside my head tells me it’s fine. To calm down. It’s a brief pause of the game, then it continues. He takes the first step.

Level three.

I reach a speed over 20 and my hand begins to grip the wheel harder. The passing cars seem a bit too fast. The light seems a bit too short. The car in front of me seems a bit too close. I tell myself to ignore the panic. But the more I fight it, the more it fights back. He wants me to see him, he comes closer.

Level four.

My car pulls and tugs with the breeze. My right handed reaches up off the arm rest. 10 and 2. 10 and 2. 10 and 2.  Faster. I press down onto gas pedal. With every moment of acceleration, my body begins to clench tighter. “Focus Imani! Focus!” He starts to scream it. My eyes go back and forth and back and forth and back and forth between the rearview mirror and the windshield. The car behind me begins to catch up with me. “Faster Imani, faster!” I’m going 80 I can’t go any faster!

Level five.

65. 70. 80. No more. My heart is racing. With each brief flash of brake lights in front of me, I slam on my breaks. He stands tall dressed in a black cloak. He calls himself Anxiety but all he is, is the mixture of everything you were afraid of as a child, and teenager and adult. Those things you tried avoid and hide from. He stands tall. Tall enough to wrap me in the dark that is shadow. He catches my breath.

Level sixth.

How the hell do I merge? I jerkingly pull to the right. Though feet away from the metal railing, I shake at how close it feels. Soon my body is filled. He has taken over. Everything inside me tries to fight it but I can’t, I can’t.

Level seventh.

It starts.The images begin to play. It starts with our cars passionately kissing. The crunching of the metal. The strength of our bodies shaking against the impact. The call out to my parents. They can’t get to me. The panic as they rush to my side. Fuck! Help me! Each bump tells me I’ve hit someone. I drive past. No you didn’t. No you didn’t. No you… I drive back again. Nothing there. He won’t let me stop. This is just a game. Please let this just be game. It’s just a game. It’s just. His. Game.

The Final Level.

I pull into the parking spot. My hands clammy. My heart pressing out of the skin and muscles that protect him. I made it. I pull myself out of the car and lock it. I turn the key, catching my reflection in the car window. He’s gone. Nobody knows he visited me today. And nobody knows he’ll visit me again, soon. But for now, I’ve made it. The game, is over.