panic.


By Sebastian Matthew

I.
Awhile back, my dad took me to New Mexico,
    pulled over.
        “Let me drive.”
    Miles upon miles.


                            Was it my right of passage? Am I older? What have I seen now? Is it different? I'm closer to the                    
yellow lines on the ground, speeding past one by one.
thousands of technicolor bullets ripping past until dinner.

We stopped at the alien museum by Area 51. When I stepped into the dark room, I began to see the nights in San Francisco, fourth grade, and my sisters Star Trek days. Sometimes, I would watch with her, laughing at all of the inside jokes that only people who actually watched the show could get. Then, crawling into my parents' bed at two in the morning and resting my head on my mothers' pregnant belly. The growing embryo soon to be my little sister as foreign as the aliens miles away from here back in New Mexico, rotting away in Area 51.
She is slightly older now and I am insanely jealous of the way her mind works. She looks at us like giants, fearing the monster in her dresser, taking advantage of her VIP access to where the wild things are hiding, a place I have forgotten how to find.

Sometime later, I am dreaming on my open window. I don't rest my head on my mother, but the cold windowsill as the crisp October air burns my nostrils. I see you open the front door, coming home from the party. And I never knew what to say when you (the older one, the one who is wise, the one knows, for I am young and naive) staggered into my room afterwards. I just smiled.

II
Weeks ago, she is who she said she would be. As I watch her from the corner of the English classroom, I can clearly see her natural roots, a harsh contrast to the manic glow.

III
“Did you like me better last year?” I ask.
He tells me he hates it when I ask him questions like that.
I shut up and we listen to the lyrics of the new song we just found.
    “I want to kiss you in a silver car that's crashing, and we will both die laughing as I am holding onto you.”
            Once again, I gaze out the window. For the first time in weeks, the air is humid. It makes me so happy that everything is over and I will finally have time to myself- to grow and mature (or whatever that means). I told myself I wouldn't waste my summer, but instead I let the night take me and the neon glow of the diner across the street become my new home.  I would sneak over there at two in the morning just to sit and watch the man behind the counter sleep. Then, I walk over to the side of the highway and watch the yellow line once again. I text Luca, knowing he isn't asleep and we sit and talk by the river till sunrise. He is older than my older sister, so I listen to him even more than I listen to her. 
    “I'm in such a messed up situation right now. I just don't know what to do.” He tells me.
                    “Maybe you should stop smoking.”
                        He looks at me like I dont know what I'm talking about. I am once again reminded about how
nobody really listens to kids
(not even the kids)
I nod my head hastily. I sympathize, but I secretly envy him. He is on his own, and he knows what to do. He struts around with brown eyes sharp as razors. He is old, and while he is unhappy, it was his independent actions that brought him to his “messed up situation”.
It was the independence that I envied 
I would often watch him from the corner of the room
as he danced
I want to dance like him
like nobody's watching
when everybody's watching.

IV
I am home now. Is this what I wanted? I'm not sure. Sometimes, it's nice to have somewhere to go... I'm not sure if I really agree with that, but it depends on my mood. 
    I can die laughing in that silver car another day, staining the yellow lines red, as the aliens watch from above.

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