“Driving Into Sunsets” by Alison Stine from Wilde Magazine: A Magazine of Art and Literature with a Queer Edge, Issue One, Winter 2012. Edited by Lucia Guatney.
The narrator of this story is travelling cross-country, playing a game as she goes. She imagines she’s back in time and on her way to college, or heading to New York to make her way on the stage, or at various other points when she was starting over.
She travels through several states, taking note of the landscape, observing the few people who cross her path, and recalling friends with whom she is no longer in communication. It’s her fault, she admits. She doesn’t write back because even among her friends, she feels like an outsider. She’s lonely, but is confident she won’t always be.
She’s heading west looking for yet another fresh start. This time, hopefully, it will be the right one.
The story employs different points of view to illustrate the change its sole character undergoes, like a creature that’s molting, becoming what it is destined to be. First person gives way to third and briefly to second before returning to first. It’s a beautifully handled device that I’ve never seen used before.
My favorite section of the story is near the end:
Lake Tahoe is perfect, as Utah was perfect, as Kansas was perfect. They are each their own thing. They are each the thing they are supposed to be, which is a thing I have never seen before, and do not know. They are each full of people living their lives, lives I can only guess at, think I could do, if only I was given entrance.
Best of all, it ends on a high, hopeful note. I loved this piece, and can’t wait to read more from this author.