Dean Traylor is a freelance writer and teacher who writes about various subjects including education and creative writing.
“Where you heading?” the gas station attendant asked.
Adam Gin hesitated to put the nozzle into his ’87 Escort. The question caught him off guard. Up until this moment, Adam had an impulsive decision afters years of living in a state of stagnation as an inconsequential office worker with nothing much to show for his bland personal and financial life. But, despite the decision, he really wasn’t sure if he should continue his journey past this lone gas station on the edge of civilization.
“Out there,” he blurted with a twinge of incompetence in his tone.
“Out there?” the attendant snorted. “Why there’s nothing out there for hundreds of miles.”
But there was something out there. Adam was sure of it. The problem was that he wasn't sure what it was. Was the family life he always wanted? Or was it that need to become more than an over-glorified pencil pusher? Maybe it was just a need for a new direction in life. Either way, the safe unencumbered life he led in the city was dashing his dreams and self-worth from the heights of its skyscrapers and onto the hard pavement below.He needed a way out. He wanted to find those dreams – and himself - somewhere else.
Adam glanced at the desolate land ahead of him. He realized that "uncertainty" was in front of him. And, the attendant was confirming his fears.
Was he right, or wrong? He had to ruminate on this.
“You sure nothing’s out there?” Adam asked.
“Maybe some mountains, canyons, and some small town,” the attendant said. “Thing is, I really don’t know, and I don’t want to know. Out there is nothing for me, and nothing for a city folk like you.”
Normally, Adam would chew the guy out. But, the guy was merely expressing his knowledge -- at least, on the possibilities that may or may not exist down the road ahead. Was he right, or wrong? He had to ruminate on this.
He glanced down the road from where he had come from. His entire disillusioned dreams were there, mixed in with the three-piece monkey suits, mortgages, traffic jams, taxes and pollution.
He turned toward the empty, foreboding spaces in front of him. There was uncertainty. He could fail or succeed in the wilderness ahead. While the path could be treacherous, it could be rewarding, too.
At the edge of the lonely highway, he glanced in the rear view mirror at the dilapidated station and the hunched-over attendant. Adam could've sworn that the man had a forlorn look on his face before turning away.
He craned his head back again to where he came from, and then toward the direction his car was pointing. This was his last chance to make up his mind.
He finished fueling, twisted the cap on and paid the attendant.
“Nothing for me?” Adam asked coolly.
“Nothing.” the attendant said, enunciating the last syllable of his lone, negative word.
“Well, I’ll just have to find out," Adam replied before a confident smile widened across his face.
The attendant nodded his head, not so much to agree but to hide his disdain for Adam's decision.
And with that, Adam paid the man, jumped into his and started the engine.
Adam powered the car onto the road. At the edge of the lonely highway, he glanced in the rear view mirror at the dilapidated station and the hunched-over attendant. Adam could've sworn that the man had a forlorn look on his face before turning away.
It didn't matter anymore what he was thinking, Adam felt. He turned his gaze upon the road and pulled out onto highway, heading toward a magical place called uncertainty.
© 2017 Dean Traylor