Blind Descent / by Steve Richardson

This week, Potluck turns one!

What a year it's been. In the past 365 days, we've hosted over 100 different writers, photographers, illustrators, and videographers on this site. And we are, and continue to be, very proud of their work. 

So, in order to commemorate them and our one-year anniversary, each editor has decided to republish a work that he or she believes has fully exemplified Potluck, and the space we've created here.  It's seriously the least we could do.

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When I blink my eyes, or when I let them close, searching for moisture, two lines of light—possibly inverse light—stretch into the darkness the way I imagine the lights of a runway might look, as seen by a pilot, marking where to aim on blind descents. 

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen these. They’re common for me on night drives. But, 

I’ve always attributed these lines to the headlights of passing cars.

These lines can’t be from headlights.

It’s 3:00am and I’m somewhere between L.A. and Vegas with Jordan and Megan asleep on the fold-out queen-size bed that, during waking hours, is the sole back seat of my 1986 VW Vanagon. Two surfboards, three longboards and an assortment of trail mixes and granola bars litter the carpeted space between my sleeping friends and me as I chain-smoke in the lonely front end, trying to stay awake. 

These lines of light in my visions—but only in my vision when my lids are down—can’t be from headlights. I haven’t seen another car for miles. Hours, maybe. 

The air blowing through the four inches between the window’s glass and the window’s frame, a crack to let air out but still letting air in, has a high elevation chill. The air carries the scent of pine into the van. The scent of pine carries thoughts of summers spent at Lake Tahoe, at Sugarpine Point, into my thoughts—my dreams?

I blink to stay awake.

I blink to get another look at the lines, like two elongated fluorescent bulbs, on half power, lining my inner eyelid.

While failing in our attempt to learn the art of surfing, using the boards we borrowed from my uncle when we made a quick pit-stop at his poolside barbecue in his suburban Vegas backyard, on our way toward California eight days ago, Jordan’s skin began turning blue. A blanket of clouds blocked the sun. The water’s always cold anyway. We gave up. The next day at Venice Beach, beneath an unveiled sun, we tried again and failed again. But after, on my way back to the van—where Jordan and Megan, after leaving me at the beach, had climbed to the thin metal of the van’s roof, so they could reach the oranges on the overhanging limbs of a residential orange tree—as I rode my skateboard, carrying the surfboard under my left arm, a ten-year-old kid asked me, “How’s the surf?” Knowing I looked the part, if only to a ten year old, gave me some sense of accomplishment. 

Blinking again I realize I’m letting my thoughts drift too close to dreamland so I slide another black cigarette from its gold packaging. This time, when I blink, the flame from the Bic lighter dances between the borders of the white light stains on my retina.

I blink again to get a better look and I think the white lines could be the lane barriers, the boarders of I-15. They must be. 

I blink to stay awake, not knowing yet that in Vegas, where Jordan and I had planned to switch, he’ll be too tired to drive. I won't know until the next day that while I drove through the night, Jordan and Megan stayed awake too, fooling around on the fold-out queen-size bed that, during waking hours, is the sole back seat of my 1986 VW Vanagon.



Steve E. Richardson lives in Utah where he recently graduated from the University of Utah.  He shares stories of pizza delivery on his tumblr, every pizza i’ve ever delivered ( and has been published in Electric Cerial, Purple Pig Lit. and Enormous Rooms.