it’s 8:17 on a Sunday night in May.
the sky is bright enough
that if the moon wasn’t shining pale above us you’d think it was
when i turn my head
pink swaths of cloud wrap around the horizon,
cradling the last rays of sun as they
into the ground.
the endless rolling green of the foothills of appalachia stretch out beyond the dashboard.
my feet are tucked beneath me,
a book cushioned in my lap,
its pages soft from years of love.
my father sits behind the wheel of the jeep he cherishes so much,
singing softly to the songs he raised me on.
a guitar hums through the speakers,
strums of americana fill the car,
vibrating through the dust-laden seats.
my father turns 51 in three months.
in four, i’ll sit on the morning damp football field of my high school with the rest of my senior class.
the cicadas won’t be singing anymore,
their song passed onto the crickets and the morning doves.
in eight months, i’ll have sent out my transcripts
to the schools i hope to spend the next four years of my life at.
in 12 months, i’ll know which school that’ll be.
when my father turns 52,
i’ll be packing my bags,
leaving the blue grey room i grew up in
for the dust bunnies.
but for now, my father is 50. we ride through the mountains that the country forgets, and i watch their secrets pass by in the twilight. tonight, my father is whistling in tune with jason isbell and i am turning the pages of a novel. and though memory is a fickle thing that i am sure exists only to confuse me, i hope that if i return to these forests, these hills, these winding roads, i remember them beautiful, held close by the moon, the future stretching into the valleys below.
Grace Gent is a high school student from Northern Virginia. When she isn’t writing she can be found forcing her dad to take her on road trips and trying very hard to learn the guitar.