Greta Contemplates the Infinite

Illustration by Ryan Miller.


Oh, Greta:

Admit it. You just miss your old green truck. It was like nothing else. You had to stomp on a floor starter to get it going. It had a first gear so low it seemed to walk, one step at a time. Curved side-to-rear windows made you proud as if they were works of art, yours alone. That floor shift and high cab made you feel mighty. You were young and poor, but you had a 1953 GMC truck that ran. You’d hide a cigarette under the rubber floor mat to smoke on the twenty-four mile ride home from work at midnight, along the curves of the Wisconsin River by dark, tree-covered hills, singing at the top of your lungs. You cranked the window down, dreaming about songs and spotlights, and wishing your voice didn’t crack. The seat had a fine bounce when those mushy shocks hit a bump, and you went up-and-down, up-and-down, giggling, having no idea what life had in store for you around the next bend.

Greta replies:

But I do know what came next. I know all the episodes after those night rides. I had to trade that truck for two baby calves and a Buick with a cracked head that needed bump starting, but no matter – I lived on a hill. Five kids, three husbands, ten moves and four decades later I bounce on different seats, but still giggle in the dark, alone, with my truck window open, and sing at the top of my lungs, keeping an eye out for signs of what’s around the next bend.

Death weighs in:

I’m waiting and watching too, not that I’m bouncing or giggling much. Not my style.

But I’ll take a fine Cuban cigar if you’ll leave one for me under the floor mat. I’d like to puff away while I contemplate mortality, eternity, and the unfathomable possibility of being. I do know what’s around the next bend. I’m always here. Think living would make sense if I weren’t?

And yet, one more, unidentified speaker has a say:

If babies can giggle as well as cry, perhaps that’s enough while we carve out our path and try to peer around the next bend. So before you slam the door on your latest old truck, Greta, do pick up the candy wrappers, plastic spoons, bits of gravel, and paper clips from the rubber floor mat, toss them into a plastic bag, shake it up, and then pour them out onto a page to see what patterns they make. You were always good at making satisfying sense out of nearly nothing at all. Now kick the door shut for luck. Still feels good, doesn’t it?

Ann Linquist lives in the country outside of Fish Creek. She teaches writing courses online for, reaching over 6500 students last year.