A Straight Road

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swimmer 13/05/13 (Tue) 20:34:26 #15074222


Unfortunately, it was raining in Michigan when I visited after a long time.

When I was about seven or eight, I almost drowned in a river. If my father didn't notice, I couldn't even be posting here. I think it was this incident that motivated me to learn how to swim, because a few days after I drowned, I voluntarily asked my father to let me do so. Perhaps I had thought that if I could swim I wouldn't drown anymore (of course, just being able to swim doesn't mean you'll never drown). Still, I can't help but be impressed by how determined I was back then.

I went to swimming lessons three times a week. It was a rather far place from where I lived then, about a thirty-minute drive, so my mother took me to and from the place.

Swimming is a very physical activity. In the water, you have to wade through the water around you, no matter what you want to do. It constantly puts a strain on your body. Elementary school kids usually don't have much stamina — by the end of the lesson, I was always exhausted. So when I first started learning, I would often lie down in the car on the way home to rest my body.

About a month after I started going to swimming lessons, I noticed that my mother sometimes took a different route home. Since I was lying down in the back seat, I couldn't see the scenery outside, but I still vaguely knew that she was driving a different way. It wasn't until another month later that I became aware that something was definitely wrong. When we passed that way, the car didn't make a single turn. The suburb of Michigan where I lived was certainly a rural location, but even so, there was no chance that one could drive thirty minutes to home without turning once.

Whenever we took the straight road home, it was always raining. I believe the rainfall itself wasn't that heavy, but I could hear it pattering on the ground, with a strange clarity. The most frightening thing to me as a child was that my mother would stop talking. Normally she would ask me about everything that had happened at school or swimming lessons, but when we were driving that road, she would become silent. Only once did I try to talk to my mother in this state, and she replied in an awfully slow voice: "What." This is one of the reasons why this strange phenomenon is not only a mysterious experience peculiar to childhood, but also gives me a feeling of almost fear even now. I felt as if my mother, who usually made me feel safe, had been replaced by something else (or maybe she really had become something). There was no place where I felt comfortable on the straight road. I remember the cheerful voice of radio personalities sounding out of place in the car.

I continued to attend that school for a year before I moved away from Michigan, because it suited me and I enjoyed swimming so much that I still do. Maybe I was just being stubborn, too. While I went to swimming lessons in the new place as well, I never encountered the similar phenomenon. I even asked my parents about it, but ultimately I can't figure out what exactly that straight road was. If I had looked out the window while passing along the straight road, I might have been able to see something, but I didn't think to check. In fact, I seemed to be desperately trying to avoid looking out the window. I think I was always lying down in the car on the way home after I realized that we sometimes passed that road.

One thing I remember vividly is this feeling that something was peeking at me from the rainy outside while we were driving down the straight road. The gaze followed me the entire time I was on the road. An obnoxious gaze as if licking and dragging me in. What was happening outside the car, what was there in the rain, I can't confirm anymore; and to be honest, I'm glad I didn't.

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