Down the Line

Lyn was a walker.

When she was a child she never took the bus. She always walked.

After college she found a job in the city. She walked everywhere. When she took vacations she would hike up mountains, walk ancient cities.

She would usually walk alone. Lyn attributed her loneliness to walking. Men would hoot and whistle at her: “Get in the car baby! Nice ass! Whoo—shake it!”

Lyn wasn’t interested in the role of passenger. Lynn enjoyed being alone with her thoughts, walking with them, carrying them around with her.

When Lyn dreamed, the landscape slowly scrolled by at three miles an hour.

Lyn loved to work out her dialing problems while she walked. Lyn loved the feel of the ground moving beneath her. When she was walking Lyn felt connected.

Lyn’s parents died of old age three months a part. When she quit her job in the city, Lyn decided she needed a vacation. A long vacation with lots of walking, time for reflecting. She was forty-two. She had plenty of time.

When Lyn heard that one could walk from New York to Texas by following the power lines, she thought this sounded worthwhile.

So she did it. She sublet her apartment. She stopped her mail. Dumped her mediocre boyfriend. The relationship wasn’t going anywhere anyway. She knew they were stuck in the rigidity of their middle-aged personalities. Lyn knew she wasn’t good at handling human ambiguity. She didn’t feel like working at something indistinct and intangible. Walking was the opposite: it was grounded.

Lyn packed her backpack, her tent, her clothes, food. She set out for Texas, following the power lines. It was difficult to get lost this way, Lyn thought. It was easy to slip into automatic pilot. It was almost as if the power lines did the walking for her, as if they were a train track.

In the back of her mind Lyn worried about the electricity, but only when she was tired. She had odd, swirling dreams. Lyn did wonder if the electrical currents influenced them.

It was May when Lyn began the trip. The landscape changed slowly. The land flattened and rose. She crossed highways and farms and pastures. She forded creeks, climbed fences.

Dogs chased her. Vultures swarmed overhead. Lyn wondered if the vultures weren’t used to seeing people along the path formed by the power lines.

Mice scurried underfoot.

Herds of deer cleared out ahead of Lyn. She slept in the soft nesting spots the deer made in the pastures.
She felt like a reindeer making its way to a wintering spot.

When she reached Texas, she kept going. She could go through Central America, South America. She could walk for years. Her legs didn’t want to stop. She would walk to Patagonia, to the penguins, as far as the land would take her.

Lyn’s feet hurt. Her legs ached. It didn’t matter. Someone would have to shoot her: she wasn’t stopping for anything less.

Nathan Leslie