by Meg Pokrass and Aimee Parkison
Truckers’ wives warned me it was a lonely life, unless I was willing to travel with you. When we go truckin’ together in my mind, I see so much life out the truck windows as the towns and cities unfold along the highway. I’m with you as you drive into the night sundown and as you drive into the morning dawn. No atlas could ever tell the way roads are carved into the maps of memory.
When I see your truck rolling out of the driveway, I wonder about the crates in back. How many people will eat from the boxes of cereal you’ve driven from X to Y? How much of your life has been devoted to trucking bread from a factory to a restaurant where teenagers slap together chicken sandwiches before shoving them into paper bags?
When you call me, you say keep on truckin’ babe. Lord I feel alive. I love it that you can feel me here, on this day, at home. And since we’re not truckin’ together, I don’t worry about how it would look to see the two of us truckin’ in the same box, because we’d seem… pitiful, I guess. Needy. Don’t you think?
But okay, and then occasionally I DO imagine us trucking next to each other’s arms, me doing my thing and you doing your thing but next to each other when we do it. Smarty pants kids watching us the way they do, and what all of that would mean, what all of that would say about us. And maybe that’s it, until I met you, I was truckin’ into the grave. It was bad, I tell you, being so still. It was very hard to bear, hard to breathe.
Since I’ve known you, babe, I’ve been trucking with you every night, and when the lights are low, I’m going there with you. We don’t use words, don’t say it in words, can only hear each other with headphones smashing the deafness from our ears.
Baby, keep on keep on!
And the day is old, but the night is young and the food so bland it’s not even bad anymore, because bad is an actual thing. The world is ticking here behind my eardrums, truckin’ me less angry, truckin’ me into your lonely truck. Truckin’ me the way you do and only you can do, with me.
No, I say to stillness, deafness. You can’t stop a feelin’ when it comes. Everything in life is truckin’, unless you’ve given up.
You eat, sleep, and live in a box on wheels. I eat, sleep, and live in a box on land.
Someone has to truck the bread, the sliced pickles, the mayonnaise, the chicken, the napkins, the paper bags, the ketchup packets, and the fries. People don’t like big trucks taking up the highway in caravans, but no one likes to see grocery stores with empty shelves. Nothing happens without you. Without truckin’. Because you need to come home, keep truckin’, babe, I whisper, though my heart is breaking.
Meg Pokrass is the author of seven flash fiction collections. Her work has recently appeared in Electric Literature and Washington Square Review. She is the two-time winner of San Francisco’s Blue Light Book Award, and serves as series co-editor of Best Microfiction.
Aimee Parkison is the author of five books. Refrigerated Music for a Gleaming Woman won FC2’s Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize. Parkison is Professor of English at Oklahoma State University and serves on FC2’s Board of Directors. More information about Parkison and her writing can be found at www.aimeeparkison.com