The gentle padding of the routine jogger’s strides along River Vale road could be heard like a metronome from the opposite side of the town. Which laid, understandable, about 12 square miles from where she ran. Though the midday sunlight streamed through a crack in the blanketing clouds, deeming it an optimistically decent day, the only sounds able to be heard were the thumps of the jogger’s relentless feet beating the already-beaten-down concrete.
The squeaking tires or the occasional passenger along the town’s single main road rang like a foreign instrument, interrupting the orchestra of practical silence of which this town prided itself. The jogger, by mere cause of routine, would pause her metronymic steps about the entrance of the Country Store, where she’d order their famous Pike Roast, enjoy the bitter energy warming her throat, and thus continue her daily path along the silence.
The Country Store, and all of its secluded corners, served as a reservation for teenage recklessness, the air encompassing the lingerie musk of all the “firsts” experienced there: the tentative first kiss of exhilarated middle schoolers, with the intention of infiltrating adulthood; the first swig of Jack Daniels by the time-constrained freshman, all with the apprehension that the next call to his phone would be by his omniscient mother; the first horribly conducted “puff puff pass” by the group of sophomores who swore they never would, six years before. All the firsts, all the experimental actions taken by kids who thought had known better, billowed upon that earth like grey smog from the chimney of a fireplace. The under-nourished ground absorbed that smog as if in hope of some water, and yet the firsts continued clouding as children continue growing. Like a cycle. This town, I’ve realized, is a cycle.