Given that I had claimed I’d try to post once a week, I’ll conveniently post this very short story sort of thing that I started writing two years ago (curiously, also around late April) and left unfinished until a few days ago.
I lay down on the long not-quite-comfortable seat in the back of the vehicle, at the moment oblivious to the outside world. The air conditioner on, the increasingly arid light of the outside lighting the inside, my head uncomfortable on a pillow against the unyielding side of the van, three books lying somewhere on the seat as I try to fix the jumble of cables and make a final music pick. Most of the trip on the highway and into the Mexican mountains in the northeast of the country as the van drove south their range was spent reading fiction to the beat of music. I had the idea of overhearing the name of the place we were heading to, but it didn’t mean much to me. As we started to ascend through paths that circumvented hills as they climbed them and showed new hills springing at the other side and all around, I started to notice my awareness of the surroundings despite the plugs in my ears and eyes on the pages.
I looked out to the dark dry green and brown scrub resting among more of the same. Once inside the range, there were at any specific time some five hills or mountain peaks at sight, but never did I consider during the trip the number being left behind or the number that kept springing up. Otherwise, the view didn’t hold anything new. The same scrub and tree, soil and breeze that were present throughout this particular region I was getting used to. The transition was too gradual to notice, the pavement disappearing while the possibility of seldom solitary lives rummaging through stone, ground, and scrub bleakly permeated everything around. The thought of such lives failed to produce the conception of quiet and satisfying life in the woods, but too simply a conceivable collection of lonely quiet existences that coincide only by chance, hardly becoming a whole. The trees thin, extending branches as if trying to get some air in the suffocating heat and at the same time protect from the beating rays as most meager land as they could. Their leaves bore on dry green or yellow brown, a tinge of red; attempting foliage as if trying to conceal the rest, yet wearily content in their failure; waiting with each other as if all were one to the slipshod eye but each enduring their own existence. The ground rested beneath from yellow where uncovered to light brown dried out by famished roots which even while brittle kept permanently seeking through dusty rock; this ground lived thus just like the wall of the mountain, just like the hills around, just like the valley below.
Suddenly the drive round stony and intermittent scrubby walls—the constant leap from hill to hill which before had seemed to be a mountain—became a straight road in a level space with a slight decline to the left that then turned up into other mountains; and a straight short plain to the right that seemed to crash with hills that must look like mountain peaks from the other side. So there—over a road high above what seemed the level surface of the earth when altitude does not make sense to the mind busied in its own immediate perspective—was the van soaring above the world guarded to each side. Although there were some hills as a background to the front and the back of our view, it still seemed as if the van were in a procession through a hall walled by two files of mountains. The soil was still hard and yellow, perhaps more yellow than the one before. The rocks stood released from the ground, enduring with the dust. The trees farther into these hills were still short and thin, surrounded by long gone trees or those barely holding sparks of life. The spark was still dull, rather holding the memory of old splendor than eager to let it shine; seldom having such occurrence.
There was never a feel of death, nor was there one of life. Death or life kept itself a secret. Yet, the breeze that barely touched the vehicle brought me peace and rest of its own. The life inside the van only worked with the former to let thoughts race: of nature, of rhythm and noise, of pseudoscientific dissertations about nature and culture, about the environment and the lives within it all forming a distinguishable whole.
The trees closed in, everything looked greener, holding a not very well kept secret: a spring of water gushing vigorously. It was crowded by loneliness and sadness, by courage to breathe and a spark of wonder—sightseers fleeing their own austerity, unconsciously sure that they are no different than these places, trying to take pride with a forlorn smile on what they convince themselves they are.