The road was dark and winding as the cold rain fell into the windshield. I had turned the radio off because my heart was racing. I couldn’t see clearly as my breath caught in my throat, and I was sweating despite the fifty-degree temperatures and no heat in the car.
“Calm down, George,” Grant said, catching me off guard. “You need to calm down.”
“I don’t know anymore, man. I feel like I’m losing my mind here. I want to stay, but I want to run, I’ve never had anything this permanent in my life before. I’m terrified about fucking it up,” I said shaking my head. “I can’t breathe anymore, but at the same time never want to again if it means being with her.”
“Dude, you are so messed up right now,” Grant said leaning forward as he lit a cigarette. “Breathe. It’ll be alright.”
“No, I need to figure this out. I know I will eventually, it just needs to happen sooner rather than later,” I said, “Is it that I’m afraid of the commitment? We’ve been together for almost ten years, you’d think it wouldn’t be that, right?”
“It’s not the commitment,” Grant replied, “It’s you thinking long term. You’ve always been the same guy, you think about today, and maybe as far out as a month, but you never think about ten years, or thirty, and you definitely never think about dying.
“Lately, with everything going on, you’ve been focused on the big picture. You’re losing sight of the small pieces, and it’s overwhelming you. You need to relax. Married or unmarried, you would be together for the rest of your lives. I know, I got that with my widow.”
The word hung in the air, thick and putrid. Widow. The passenger side tire hit the rumble strip on the side of the road as I slammed on the brakes to prevent driving into the ditch. I put the car in park and rested my shaking hands on the wheel.
“Are you-” I started but fell short when I looked over. I was alone.
I sat there for a long time, tears running down my face and just listened to the rain. Hoping that the panic and fear would pass. My breath came in big gulps of air as my heart pounded in my chest and head. I leaned back in my seat and let the wind and rain through the window.
I’ll get through this, I thought, I have to…
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