It was just over the Pennsylvania state line—where the road widens and silos rise up on either side and the welcome sign says Pursue Your Happiness—that the rains came, first soft, then in sheets, so we slowed, flicked on our blinkers, but soon you couldn’t see a thing, it was anyone’s guess where the lanes were, the other cars, the horizon. Some stalled right there in the middle of the highway, but I made it to the shoulder with a car in front of me and another behind and we huddled like that with bumpers almost touching while the worst of it passed and (I shit you not) Michael Stipe sang “It’s the End of the World As We Know It” over the radio. I texted short messages to my husband, tapped a tweet about how we don’t see enough kissing on street corners, then looked back at the four serene faces of my children, spit sliding down their cheeks, temples sweat-damp, returning from a visit to my grandmother whose second husband died earlier that day (not the first one she really loved, who died years ago) and oh, how hard it is just to remain, yet here we are all of us trying. Then that sky changed from blue-black to rust so I clicked the turn signal and slipped slowly onto the interstate as we made our way a few more miles to exits, then back roads, past the private pond and bike path, the decaying barns in deep red, each of our cars disappearing one by one into the fog of familiar places until alone, on that final stretch, my shirt felt soaked, skin-stuck, as if the rains had reached me, and I thought how in our little time here, at least we can be stranded strangers seeing each other home.

Dina L. Relles pic.jpeg

Dina L. Relles’ work has been/will be in The Atlantic, matchbook, Monkeybicycle, Passages North, DIAGRAM, and Wigleaf, among others. She is the Nonfiction Editor at Pidgeonholes and Assistant Prose Poetry Editor at Pithead Chapel. More at or @DinaLRelles.