The earth sang to her, gave her missives in her bones. It cried to her, “You are more than this! You are stronger than this! You are a wild queen meant for the rivers and glens, flocks and packs!” Day after day she fought this song coursing through her. Every day she played threnodies for her own soul to drown out the song of the earth, to convince her bones that her civilized existence, while the death of her soul, was the right thing. The overpowering thing.
Her existence continued like this for years: the earth sung to her melodies of wild love and exuberant pain and for years she drowned it out as best she could.
One morning she woke to silence. Her patient lover, the earth, was no longer singing. The quiet rocked her, a void as cold as space but claustrophobic like a gathering of demeaning peers. She listened, laying still in her bed. She turned to her side and pressed her ear into her pillow, hoping the tune was quiet, muffled beneath her bed, but she heard nothing.
She crawled from her bed, to the floor, and pressed her ear to the scratchy grey carpet. Now she rested only feet from the dirt, from the soil, from the lifeblood that clotted beneath her home. Still she could hear nothing. She wept. Quietly at first, because she didn’t realize she was sad. She didn’t know how great her missing was.
As she lay there weeping the minutes ticked by. Slowly. Slowly. Slowly. But as her weeping grew to the mourning cries of widows and children of war she knew, in the back of her mind, her time was running out.
The safe world was striking up a call: pull yourself from the floor, deny that vibrant, animalistic pulse beating in your heart, for you are my child now. She slowed her tears. She took deep breaths of the air conditioned air and dug her nails into the synthetic carpet scratching her skin.
She slowly, slowly pulled herself to her knees, then to her feet. She shuffled to her closet and dressed. She pulled herself, step by step, to her bathroom and plastered her face with makeup, the war paint she donned to protect her from her own insecurities.
She was a sleeping body drawn by unnamed forces to the door. Her hand knew without her consciousness to grab her purse and keys, to lock the door behind her. She sat in her car, key in the ignition, but stopped. The soft call of domesticity increased its pitch, increased its volume, increased its demand. “Drive. Drive. Drive. Drive, my dear.” It commanded. It pleaded. It cajoled.
She clutched the key, her hand growing angry at being clenched so tightly. Her arm began to tremble and the tremble infected her shoulder, her lips, her heart.
She turned the key and backed the car into the street. She began her commute. The city song eased, sure it had won.
She entered the crowded highway, contested with others bound to the urban mother’s milk. She saw in the fume-filled highway her brethren in their own paths, in their own cars. They sat, angry, sad, empty. She saw the exit leading away from the city. Away from what she knew. Away from what she had built herself into. She flipped the sun visor down and met her own gaze, black mascara tears running down her cheeks.
She considered stopping. She thought how quickly she could end it all in a hot car on the highway. She knew the paramedics wouldn’t be able to reach her for half an hour after a call was placed. How long before her highway-bound brethren noticed her slumped in her seat?
As the cars inched she felt herself grow nearer surrender. When the traffic slowed to a stop, she told herself she would do it.
As the cars’ brake lights flared in front of her she knew. Her car slowed with the rest, now in line with an exit leading away from her goal. She put the car in park and cut the air. She began to sweat. She grew restless and angry. As the heat grew around her, an entity of its own, she heard it: the earth singing to her again. Her hope hadn’t died. Her fate wasn’t sealed.