Different Plains

By Kali Lybeck

 I strain my eyes through the car window to see the horizon, the black road blending perfectly with the equally black sky. I’m reminded just how far from home I am. It will be two months before I return.

We are headed to a hospital with which I am not familiar, with a sibling who I hardly know and a mother I do not relate to. Meanwhile my Dad is at home; I imagine he’s eating dinner with my brother. 

For hours now we’ve been wandering aimlessly in the rattling car, and my ears have been ringing as I lean against the cool car window. The contact of my forehead and glass creates a hollow clunk, that’s hardly audible. Instead, the dominance of their needle-like voices are the only thing I hear as I gaze silently at the water droplets racing down the glass. Their voices are high pitched like a sickly child’s cry, gnawing endlessly at my ears. I shove my face further into the window, the cold ebbing across my sweat-coated skin. The fact that I’m separated from the ground haunts me. The sharp headlights from passing cars reveal thick droplets shooting from the sky. Though, it’s hardly a distraction the headlights are microscopic compared to the empty nothingness.

“How many miles left?” I ask above the rattling of the car. I receive no response. My mother and sister continue to ramble continuously. I linger, watching their mouth’s move in unison to their repetitive comments. Seconds later and they are still yapping. I yank my mother’s phone from the front to check myself. My mother laughs at something my sister said. I shove my hands over my ears.

If I close my eyes the blaring streetlights and rushing cars slowly disappear into a comforting silence; for a moment the world is still.

 My sister isn’t there in this dark sanctuary, but neither is my Dad nor my brother. It’s been like this for hours, constant noise, cars rumbling by, water pelting the car roof and my mother and sister’s endless talking – eating away at my brain, infesting my senses. In a desperate attempt of escapism, I remember the phone in my hand. I decide to play my own music. The music that my brother loves to jokingly insult.

“Kali!,” my sister shouts, and the phone slips from my hand. Her round chin is tight and her icy eyes are glaring. I stare at her neck, watching the way it stays strikingly still, and I slowly shrink back into the soft padding of my jacket, despite the heat swelling from my stomach.

“Would you be quiet?” I nod immediately. It’s only lighthearted when my brother asks that. The music cuts out and I pick at the thread sprouting from the seat, abandoning the phone completely.

“So Kali, how’s school going?” I turn towards the window and search for the trees in the distance with my darting unfocused eyes. They are too far and I only see black, the scent of leather burns my nostrils and the echo of her casual tone repeats like a drum in my mind. Why is she asking about school when I can’t go for the next two months – when I will miss both Halloween and Thanksgiving at school and home? 

“You don’t want to talk to your sister?” My Dad would make a joke… if he was here. 

“No, I hate her”; I hiss, my chest squeezing and my fingers digging into the leather interior. My head is pulsating, but the mind-numbing conversation dwindles away. I don’t mean it, but I don’t take it back. I don’t hate her, I just don’t understand her. 

The distance between the front and back seats seems to grow. It’s all imaginary. The silence rings, my heart quivers, and I resort back to my dark sanctuary. My mind pleads for an escape. 

They don’t speak, their silence is louder than the rain and my cold fingers aren’t sufficient in blocking away the sickening ring of silence. I can’t gossip like they do, talk about things that don’t matter to me. 

Instead I imagine the jokes I would have made, with my Dad and brother. Maybe that distance between the seats wouldn’t be so scary anymore.


This piece is creative nonfiction as written by junior Kali Lybeck (created in her CITS Creative Writing Class) and illustrated by Liam Boos (staff illustrator for the Spartan Spin).