black ice / by Julia Berke

a year ago to date i graduated from college after careening off of the proverbial asphalt due to a collection of black ice that stretched over the road of my life. the ice sent me skidding into bars at two o’clock in the morning, full tilt, ready to take on the experience of life. i was ready to feel everything it had to offer, opening my doors to strangers and letting them take me out for a spin, check under my hood, fill me up with booze and drugs and other things. my tires lost their traction and i was launched headlong into a ditch on the side of the road.

the roads were slick because of the polar vortex that had settled over new york city but that didn’t reduce my speed, it merely made the engine rumbling inside hungrier, sending the pistons of my mind into overdrive to create the friction i needed to keep going in the dead of winter.

i came to in mid april, the ice was thawing out as it littered the streets with pools of sick and memory i wish i could wash away with a garden hose but stayed, stained on the asphalt. i went for a tune-up. then i broke down — 6 months later, a total engine failure. i couldn’t start.

and now, it’s my one year inspection and i’m scared. although the road is clear and there isn’t any ice on the ground, i have my hazards on. it’s been weeks of slipping down the road, sitting around bonfires, smoking cigarettes with the other dejected youth of the too small town that doesn’t understand there’s more to life then sitting around bonfires and drinking. we can’t stomach the conversation without a full tank. and so they binge, i watch, for fear of the ditch on the side of the road.

but then i give in, i fill up and i ask if anyone’s looking for a ride out of here. some are and some aren’t but i’m ready to experience my life again. and then i start to spin, here comes the ditch. i close my eyes and try to steer. my foot finds the brake. i open my eyes and there i am again, sidelined, the ditch on my other side, shaking all over, head on the steering wheel, hazards flashing deep orange fire.

this time i made it out without a scratch but that doesn’t mean the road’s safe. it’s a long drive and i must stay alert. better find a rest stop and get a coffee.


Julia Berke likes to wear many hats. some of them are blog superstar, freelance video production extraordinaire, shutter bug, occasional writer, and all around ethical humanist. you can find more of here fiction work here on potluck!