Prompt: an isolated place.
I wake up just as we’re passing another car, an awkward moment of eye contact through windows as I blink myself back to consciousness.
“Hey there, sleepyhead. How was your nap?”
Grumbling, I shift in the seat, rolling my head to face Shaun. “Mmmm, good. Where are we?”
“Well, you woke up just in time: border’s in three miles.”
With a sigh, I commit myself fully to consciousness and sit up. It takes a moment for my eyes to adjust, the sun bright even through my shades. We’re whizzing past green fields, distant trees seeming almost to wave as we rocket toward Canada. What a lovely day.
I get our passports ready, stretching the last kink from my spine as we pull up to the small booth. The border guard is polite and smiling, everything you’d expect from someone associated with Canada. He stamps our passports and tells us to have a good vacation. I stop myself before responding with my usual “thanks, you too.” It’s a minor victory.
Shaun drives for another hour, the soft music our only conversation, fingers casually intertwined on the center armrest. I watch the countryside pass by, struck by how much it looks like America. I don’t know what I expected, really. It’s the same continent, and I suppose a line on a map does nothing to dictate a change in scenery.
“Cars are weird,” I tell Shawn as we pass a minivan.
“What’s weird about them?”
“Like when you pass someone. Here you are, probably six feet away from another human, but you’re each existing in your own world.”
He laughs, nodding. “I suppose you’re right. I never thought about that before.”
“And from your world, you judge their world. How messed up is that? You make all these assumptions about their world based on the type of car, their age, their ethnicity, all these snap judgments that you’d never make if there was only air between you. Can you imagine walking down a sidewalk and making those same judgments?”
“Like seeing an Asian woman and thinking she doesn’t know how to walk or seeing a teenage boy and thinking he’s probably going to walk way too fast. They’re weird judgments to make if you take away the car.”
“But those judgments make sense when the person you’re judging is encased in a two-ton death machine. You worry more about how they ‘walk’ when it might kill you.”
I mull it over, gently rubbing his thumb with mine. “That’s true. Still. It’s weird, right?”
He laughs and pulls my hand up, kissing the back of it. “Yes, Ash. It’s weird.”