“I saw my first armadillo on the road to Abilene, but it was on it’s back, viscera spread across double-yellow lines.”
A man drove his wagon west through Abilene. Though the city was settled more than a century ago, he thought himself a pioneer—a trailblazer for this modern era. Buoyed by his heart and the affection he felt for a young woman one thousand miles away, he kept in motion. On cold nights he strayed from the beaten path to rest his head. He lit a fire that crackled straight through to morning. Embers popped and faded as they rose to meet the stars. He called out between distant mountains, “Bravo. Bravo.” The echo of his tenor rattled across the plains back to Appalachia. It took several sweltering July days for his communiqué to reach her sun-kissed ears, red and fiery, lit up like candles. She perked up as she heard it, “Bravo. Bravo.” Her eyelids fluttered. The voice coaxed tears from their ducts. She wiped away the salty droplets from the corners of her eyes with the back of her hand. She looked out over the Mid-West and saw the sun dip below the horizon. When the first beacon began to shine in the night sky, she stepped out onto her porch to bathe in its dim glow. A shiver crept up her spine and her frail arms seized. Her shoulders tensed. She reached around her sides to hold herself steady. Teeth chattering, toes curled, she whispered, “I am with you, Evan.” The words left her lips with a kiss and set out over cornfields and sleeping street lights on endless highways. Their heat, their solace, they melted snowcapped peaks. They gained momentum as they traveled towards the desert. Upon arrival the campfire was but a smoldering heap. Wood charred to black and soot spread out across the sand. The spirit had exited. This place was dead. The wagon trails led west so the words started after him. They wound a path past adobe homes, rodeos, saguaros and low-slung telephone wires. A wash at the bottom of a canyon offered water. The pacific grew nearer. Days later the words reached the shore, the ultimate conclusion to this shared land. There he sat, toes tickled by cold sea foam, watching waves form and crash, a cycle of birth and death. His burnt ears discerned the faintest of voices moaning, “I am with you, Evan.” And he sat at the brim of the earth and he pined for her.