Nova traveled along a straight arrow highway in her four-door Honda Civic. Her book of CDs lay in the passenger seat. She had been on this road, the road to being her true self, since leaving her parents’ house for good.
“Be careful where you stop, Nova. Be careful who you’ll meet.” Her mother had said.
At first, Nova only stopped in well-lit places for gas and fast food chains. In this way, Nova made excellent progress on the road to her true self. She stayed steady and healthy and safe.
One day, Nova’s hands gripped the wheel at ten and two, when she noticed the country road expand to an eight-lane thoroughfare with north and southbound traffic. She waved at her fellow travelers, but they moved too fast to notice.
Eventually, she spent too long on this road. It was hard to get noticed by other people. She became very lonely, and took the off-ramp headed west. The sun was an orange ball of fire in the distance.
“I’m going to stop today,” she said out loud. “I’m going to stop, first chance I get.”
It was a squat brick building on the side of the road. The sign read, “Welcome Weary Travelers!”
Nova made a friend in that squat, lone building. They hit it off. They took a chance. Nova’s friend would join her on her journey. She didn’t have to be alone anymore!
As the two pulled away in Nova’s Civic, her friend popped a CD in the disc player. It was a long-distance back to the highway. They rode with the windows down. The music blared, the night was chilly, the moon shone bright.
“It’s just up ahead,” Nova’s new friend had said, “the highway is just past this light.”
It was more of a toll booth, a giant structure leading to the highway. Hundreds of cars waited in line. A massive mechanical arm moved up and down, letting each one through. A little man sat in the control tower.
“Okay,” said Nova, a little unsure. She turned to her friend. “I guess we wait?”
The night turned to day, and the day turned to night. The full moon that illuminated their faces and street and other cars disappeared behind the cosmic shifting of the earth. The days turned to months, to years, to decades.
“I know they’ll let us through,” Nova told her friend, “We just have to wait a little longer.”
Nova’s friend began to lose hope. To her right and left were other cars that had been waiting too. There were grey-haired men and women with wrinkled faces. There were corpses at the wheel.
“Don’t you see!” Nova’s friend finally said, “They’ll never lift the mechanical arm for us!”
But Nova would not give her friend up. She would wait until the end.
Nova’s friend died the next morning, in the passenger seat with the CD case on her lap. Up ahead, the traffic moved. A giant mechanical arm lifted. A green light shone up above. Nova changed the CD, turned on the ignition, and continued on her journey to the road to her true self.