I don’t know when I first heard the voice. Maybe I had it with me when I was little. I think I may have found it when I saw the dearest person to me hurt the next dearest person to me, or when they hurt me, or maybe it was when people looked at us like we were trash before they knew anything about us, or maybe I found the voice when I had to perfect the art of farewelling. But now I have the voice, the one that clenches its fists in my head and says: things will always be shitty! There’s no hope! Life’s a bitch…and happiness is a dangerous, dirty pimp I’d rather not be familiar with! My cynical voice.

It was not the wedding of people who are particularly dear to me, although I am quite fond of them. The soft music played and the turkey vultures circled overhead, above the canyon, and the ceremony began. It was almost a Deep Thoughts moment. Then the vows came, and I felt my body unclenching, my mouth smiling in spite of myself. But that didn’t last long- the voice lurched forward: How do people do it? How do they know it’s right? How can they go so blindly, knowing how shitty life is? Knowing fully well that they’ll be sick of each other, that their children will break their hearts, that they’ll break each others’ hearts, that they’ll disappoint and possibly betray each other, that one day they’ll say something so hurtful, so awful, this day will seem like light years ago. How can this day be all that counts now, even though it represents a promise to that very future?

This afternoon, we were in the car. Two girls and a boy. I was going 65 miles an hour in the rain, listening to a song, the voice providing its usual background to my thoughts. But then the sound of the voice was overshadowed by the sound of the crack. And another crack. And hail. Hail coming down like giant periods, full-stops to sentences the sky had been pouring all afternoon. Enough; enough; enough. Listen to me! they seemed to say. I exist. We listened and I panicked, got off the highway and found a gas station, as had many others. I parked the car under an awning. There were atleast 2 dozen other cars huddling with us. We stared into each others’ windows. I hadn’t felt such a part of something collective in so long. I was surrounded with trucks and cars and jeeps and people who were looking for shelter from something bigger and stronger than they’d ever be. My eyes scanned the vehicles snuggly parked close to each other, and the ones that were still speeding along on the highway. What made us different from the people still on the highway? The voice decided those other people were risk-taking, naive, and blindly trusting. We, the parkers, knew better; we parked because it was the safest, smartest thing to do. But just then, as soon as it had begun its punctuation, the sky was done talking, and the hail stopped. The bastards on the highway were that much closer to their destination. My mouth smiled in spite of myself, and I put the car in reverse, turned off my windshield wiper, as I waited for the other cars to get the fuck out of my way.

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