This Is the End: In which I find what I was looking for

(Listen as you read for a fuller experience.)

I started driving down a certain road years ago. It was a long road, with curves and slight dips and rises that didn’t let me see too far ahead. But the road was steady and calm and clear. I didn’t need to give much thought to where I was going or what was coming along the way. I was driving down an open, sure road.

One day as I was going down this road, I started to see unexpected signs for something coming up ahead. They advertised a place of beauty and safety at the very end of a side road. “It sounds wonderful,” I thought. Day after day I passed the pretty billboards advertising this place. They painted it as secure, exclusive, and mystical—exactly like a place I had always wanted to find. “But,” I recognized, “It’s a dead end.” So I drove on.

Months passed and still the signs continued. The idea of the dead end started creeping its way into my mind. I started to watch earnestly for more advertisements on the side of the road. They became more explicit and tantalizing, and I now noticed the detail of their imagery. Whenever I came to an especially beautiful sign, I stopped the car and studied the billboard, reading over and over what it described, taking in every detail. The signs left no doubt; the dead end was all I ever wanted.

The road I had been traveling on for years no longer mattered. “It’s a dead end…” I continued to say to myself, “…But I will go there.”

So I kept driving, carefully following the instructions in the ads. I was obsessed with finding that one side road with that one final end. I drove for days until I arrived where I am now: sitting in my stalled car, facing the dead end straight on.

It is beautiful. It is safe, sure, and enticing. I can see that the billboards were not wrong; this is what I’ve always wanted. It’s what I’ve been looking for down that main road. The dead end is welcoming to me and there is a perfect spot in which I can finally stop the car and park. I can stop traveling and just rest. All around me are calm fields protected by dense forests far off along their edges. The dead end will always be clean and clear and exactly as it should be. The dead end will always be what was advertised —

— it will always be a dead end. There will always not be anywhere else to go from here. This will always be the end of the road, with no option to drive further, no option to turn to the side. The dead end is exactly what it said it would be, and there is nothing else to do but to sit, stuck, unable to drive onward.

This is the end.

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