James LePore: Project 52/2015: Lost Highway

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14814_1790594lImage: NJ Turnpike South, © James LePore

Sometimes it gets to be too much. Not too much as in, I need a vacation, or, I need to go shopping for shoes and have lunch with the girls. I mean too much as in, who cares if this new medication works? And as in, why stay? This is how I feel today. After increasing my Ativan to five milligrams a day from two, with my doctor’s consent, it now seems to have no effect. Which means I need this new drug. What am I afraid of? I’ve asked myself this many times, though my doctor tells me not to ask it, as the answer—everything and anything—is sure to make me feel worse, to exacerbate my generalized anxiety disorder.

If the new med works, I’ll be a zombie again. The kids will swim around me in a blur, my husband will get them to bed, have his Jack Daniels and then get them to school in the morning. I know I frightened Jessica this afternoon, when I said, Hi, Jess, how was school? I haven’t asked that question in a while, and my voice may have been a little strange. She said, good, Mom, with a big smile on her face, and then went to the fridge. Was her heart beating as fast as mine?

I don’t think what I have is hereditary. My doctor agrees. It’s the result of the stress of living with an asshole for a father and a coward for a mother. When I turned eighteen, I was gone in a flash, but the damage had been done. I got by for a while. Alcohol helped. I even managed to get married. But the sky fell a few years ago, and now here I am, driving north on the Turnpike on a foggy winter afternoon. The dividing barrier is too high and strong, but I wouldn’t try to jump it anyway. I don’t want to kill anyone else. There are plenty of bridge abutments though. I’ve already passed five or six.

When I was a girl, I prayed that my father’s nastiness would stop, or that my mother would leave him, taking us someplace nice, and normal, but neither happened. About twenty miles back, I passed a sign that said, Try Prayer. I did, I said, it didn’t work. But maybe I should try it again. Maybe that billboard was there for a reason. This is what my prayer would be: Please God, give me an answer. Should I drive head-on into the next abutment, or should I go home and hope this new drug works?


About Project 52/2015: I like to take pictures and I like to write fiction. This Blog will combine the two in what I am calling Project 52/2015, one of my images mated with a piece of very short fiction each week in 2015. Enjoy.

James LePore is the national bestselling author of numerous novels, most recently, God’s Formula, which he wrote with Carlos Davis. Visit his website.

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On June 23, 2015
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