Rearview Mirror, fiction by Elan Barnehama at
Emerson Lima

Rearview Mirror

Rearview Mirror

written by: Elan Barnehama



This was not my first cross-country road trip. That trip was by motorcycle right after I graduated college. Harry wanted to come with me but first he needed to settle a sizable gambling debt so I stuck around Queens that summer and helped him pay off the sizeable bookie. We left after Labor Day, and only traveled on back roads and only ate in diners and dive bars.

This trip was six months after I graduated from my marriage. She told me it was mutual. I called Harry and he came over and picked me up off the floor. I’d been staying with him since. The plan was for me to find a room of my own, but it had been six months and I had yet to read an ad let alone see an apartment. Harry never said a thing.

After we returned from LA to New York, Harry kept gambling. The difference was that he started betting on himself. He won more than he lost and was never in debt again. And even if he hadn’t won big he would not have lost because he had placed the right bet.

On this trip I was alone. And in a car and following the interstate. This time eggs and bar food were off my menu. Heraclitus said, you can never cross the same river twice and while the country and I had both changed since my last trip, the country had changed more. I had not changed enough. I owed it to myself to go all in, to bet on myself.

I love road trips. They exist outside the reality of daily routines and rhythms. The long and winding yellow brick highway. The interstate of broken dreams. The road mis-taken. The road is infused with possibility. The rearview mirror is constant proof of momentum. But even if you know where you’ve been, you never know what’s up ahead.

When I reached the water’s edge, I parked my car, removed my sneakers and socks, and crossed the sandy expanse till my feet sunk into the Pacific. And there I stayed, watching the sun disappear into the ocean.
That night I was shaken, not stirred, from my sleep. By the time I figured out that I was experiencing an earthquake, it was over. And I had survived. I opened the door and warm air enveloped me as I smelled the ocean. It was 2 am and everyone I knew everywhere was sleeping. No chance of me going back to sleep.

I opened my suitcase and pulled on running shorts and a T-shirt. I laced up my sneakers, slipped my phone into my pocket, locked the door, and headed for the boardwalk. The path was empty. The stillness and quiet were only interrupted by the rhythmic tapping of my footsteps and the crashing sound of the waves doing their thing over and over and over.

I lived here now.

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