It was the kind of day Peter wished to fill only with numbing diversion. He will work on his car for an hour or two replacing its worn-out alternator. He will clean his apartment and shop for groceries. He will pay a bill or two. He would do most anything not to be thinking about Sarah.
By mid-afternoon Peter's run out of things to do. He hops in his MG, lovingly strokes its mahogany dashboard and takes a moment to suck in the earthy fragrance of its worn leather upholstery. He jams the clutch to the floorboard, shoves the gearshift forward and motors off, accompanied only by the throaty cadence of the MG’s bristling four stroke engine and the breathless feeling of wind buffeting his face.
He cruises aimlessly out of his neighborhood and within ten minutes, out of Coleridge altogether. He reaches the interstate and thinks to head north toward Alabaster City, toward Sarah’s apartment.
The turn to Alabaster City is a classic interstate cloverleaf. There are four exit ramps and four acceleration lanes, each disposed in broadly sweeping arcs engineered to redirect the path of a hurtling vehicle by exactly ninety degrees with the absolute minimum human exertion. Each ramp effortlessly turns the expectant motorist away from one path and onto the next, with no loss of momentum.
Peter caroms into the exit ramp arcing towards Alabaster City. He leans into the ramp’s inclined curve, throttles the MG down to second gear, winds its groaning motor into a tightly bound knot and then punches the accelerator, pitching the MG confidently into the northbound acceleration lane.
He hesitates for an instant, releasing his foot from the accelerator. He thinks whether he really should try to see Sarah today. He cringes, yanks the MG to the right and accelerates onto the exit ramp that returns to Coleridge.
Peter again leans into the ramp’s arc. The centripetal force of the car’s motion presses him tightly against the left door panel. His hands clench the steering wheel and his forearms flex. It's a good feeling, being held securely in the inescapable embrace of the laws of physics. As the car slingshots onto the westbound acceleration lane, Peter concentrates only on the motion of the MG and the sensation of being held firmly in its grasp. He accelerates out of the turn back towards Coleridge and then immediately moves right onto the next exit ramp, this time headed south. He eases out this ramp and turns immediately onto the next, headed east and then onto the next, back north towards Alabaster City again.
Peter winds round the cloverleaf over and over for an hour or more, thinking of nothing but the sensation of being held. It is another means of diversion, another form of solace, circling this one lonesome concrete pretzel at sixty miles per hour, going absolutely nowhere at all.