Free Bird (Story by R.C. Peris)

My husband left me, my kids (in college I might add) barely talk to me, I have debt, my car needs a new radiator, and my best friend of eleven years took off for New York. She calls sometimes but I know she has already found New York friends.

When I was in high school I felt I could conquer the world. I didn’t. I couldn’t. I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was and I ran into Roy who married me and got me out of my parents’ house. I got pregnant shortly after and then again. Roy demanded an IUD and I got one. We stuck together. His layoffs. My lack of getting a stable job. But then he got a union job and he tells me he has been having sex with the neighbor, Michelle, for three years. They were going to make a go of it.

One day I drove to Santa Monica College. I could be a student. I skipped college for marriage. But now with no marriage, I could be a college student. It was August and they were enrolling. I signed up for four classes. One was beginning physics. You didn’t need to know Calculus.
I never missed a class and I was trying to make alimony stretch. My physics teacher taught quantum physics.

The professor pointed at me. “I know where you are Carla. But how fast are you going?”
I looked around. “I’m not moving.”

“Exactly. But if you were moving I wouldn’t know where you are but I could know how fast you were going.” The professor was young, Asian, and always word the same brown shoes.

When I got home I packed my belongings and stuffed it in the mini-van. I took off on the highway. I realized I didn’t want anyone to know where I was or where I was going. I didn’t even know. Some would say it was a mid-life crisis. But I think it was quantum physics. Only if someone pulled me aside and shook me would the quantum wave function collapse.

I smiled and turned up “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.


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