Is There Excitement after 40? Experts say ‘No.’

Wasteful World

Road is straight. Then squiggly. Uphill. Down. These drivers scared. People cautious.  

Rita knead her hands. Sit tight-lipped. 55. She change radio. Talk about mother. Hers. 

Telephone poles like crosses side of road. Angry wire. Electric chains.

Cars spit death.

Me old. Wrinkled. Slow. Clutch wheel. Stomp gas. Want end trip. Too long.

Car make noise. Repair? Damn it all. Wasteful world.

What point? Cover distance, make return. Gee wiz.

Too many others now. Traffic jam. Slow down, old man…

God, I want to make the roads clear. I want to put my hands together, out in front of me, over the wheel. Then, I pull my hands apart, my power suddenly blossoming and becoming a tangible force. The other cars will simply tumble off the road into a ditch. This is how much I should matter. None of these other people have anywhere to be. Who are they, anyway?

Now clearing. Flowing again. Relief. We sing along Chuck Berry, Elvis, Internet streams songs waited hours for on old box radio of wood. Instant now. Not like cars.

Whirring. Bumps on road. Stupid navigation. No maps in gas stations. “Don’t you have a phone, mister?”

Rita smile. Teeth like monkey. Eyes afraid. Concerned. She talk to daughter. In car. Occupy phone. Scold daughter money. Frivolous. Wasteful. I love miss. Rita say not responsible. Worried.

Clutch steering wheel. Grit teeth. Make nice! Money? Really?

The traffic slows again and even though I try to transmit an air of annoyance that should not be picked at, Rita keeps jawing at me. I am a bonfire of clear frustration. Rita goes on about Jean.

“I just don’t know what she’s doing with all of her money, Bill. She makes a decent salary, why doesn’t she see what this is doing to me?”

I breath out of my nose and make it as obnoxious as I can. “How old is she again, Rita?”

“That’s no excuse, Bill. If she’s not careful, she’ll end up…,” she trails off.

“What?” I ask, genuinely interested as to what Rita thinks will happen if Jean is late on her bills. “Only concerned about money?”

“No,” she snaps. In that one word, she manages to pack enough judgment to make her point clear. I wish I had her talent. By saying one word, nothing wasted, she tells me what she thinks. If you don’t play by the rules, there are consequences.

Good for her, but I could not disagree with her more.

Traffic clears. Stomp gas. Life too short. Cluttered. Stupid. Why? This it? Rita grabs arm. Pins her body against seat.

“There’s a cop right there, Bill!” she warns. Suddenly, her talent for brevity and direct communication has failed her.

“Evening, officer,” I say too casually, mocking her.

“The speed limit is 55.”

“You have a keen eye for the obvious, my sweet.”

She should have said, ‘You’re not playing by the rules. Consequences coming.’ But doesn’t. Passive aggressive. Think I don’t see posted speed? No. Think I break rules on purpose? Yes. I do. This time.

We go too fast. No cars move. React. Swerve into ditch. Them or me.

Me.

We died in a fiery wreck and I couldn’t have been happier. What is the point of all this? Why are there so many boundaries and why was Rita always so concerned with them? We could never even enjoy a little car trip. There was always something circling her head to distract her from loving her life. Mostly money. Mostly responsibility. Mostly rules.

Our spirits drifted up above my careless carnage and I was free from all bodily senses. I couldn’t see, so to speak, but I was aware. I observed Rita, out in the ether. She was still fighting her state of being. She was refusing to admit death and she was struggling. I could see all of the things she felt like she had not expressed, tasks left incomplete. She writhed around, desperate for another moment in a situation now expired. Never happy with the present.

I embraced the change and wrapped my long ghost hands around the representation of her neck. The dark swirls of eternity allowed me this moment and there was no boundary of time. I choked her in the sky and I passed love through my claws and into the cloud of pulsating stress that she had become. She became a little more blue, a little lighter. It wasn’t from lack of oxygen. It was from my transfer. It was from the shock of being released from the things she wrongly assumed were important. It was the joy of our last embrace. The pain of transition. It was relief. I knew she could feel me. Maybe she thought she was in hell.

I started to dissipate, off to other challenges. I had freed myself from the cage of life, and I would soon find there were consequences to such an immediate, desperate act. But that was for later. For now, I felt satisfied that Rita died knowing I loved her. I played by her rules as long as I could, but in death she discovered there was a lot more going on in the world than she was able to fit into her priorities. I hope she felt calm. Even though I tried not to be superfluous, even with my concentrated thoughts, I was glad to be free of the wasteful world that concerned her so.