At the end of the driveway, out of reach from the parental sensor light, the car off save for its accessorized music maker, two adolescents conversed.
“Maybe I wasn’t driving at all. Maybe the roads were actually operating as treadmills and they moved under us. We remained stationary. We didn’t really just drive there, the truck stop came to us, the world moving underneath my tires.”
“Are you seriously saying that’s a valid explanation to how we just got there and scored these donuts? What about that trucker you spent ten minutes talking to? He was just hanging out there and spun up under our feet with the rest of the ground and then it spun back and we’re back here in my driveway?”
“I mean, it looked like it could have been. The trees just inched by. I just turned the wheel. It could have been that way, or he’s just like some messenger looking out for us.”
“You should have let me drive.”
“I was alright. Either way, I wasn’t going fast. If my explanation is right, we weren’t moving at all. Had things gotten hairy, it would have been the trees’ fault.”
“Let me see if I follow. You’re saying it’s not that we’ve been here before, but that we never really went anywhere?”
“No, man. I’m saying that all along, here has been us.”
A hush came over the car, then a look at each other, toothy grins and a unison of “ahh.”
“Write that one down.”
So went the conversations beneath the glow of a dome light. Words became philosophy, believed because it was spoken by the demigods they had become for themselves and for each other. Their talks were about little more than the evolution of ideas that stemmed from their pseudo-enlightened minds. The conclusions they drew were akin to describing the way a cloud can, if viewed from the proper angle, look like a dinosaur or an anteater. The clouds were formed by smoke and distorted by reflections in foggy mirrors. They each required the other to come up with the answers to their confounding mysteries of the universe. They spent hours riffing on observations and trying to answer the what-ifs they thought most people go through their whole lives ignoring. Given enough time dwelling on some obscurity, the conversation would culminate in one of them saying something bound to no logical formula, but a phrase that bursted with profundity in their front seat universe. “All along, here has been us.” A one-liner that summed up and answered the questions of their prior conversation. A sentence answered for the whole evening. The words were recorded, documented for some later time when they might go back and read through the pages and scoff or nod at the stupidity or genius in their outlandish ideas distilled as temporarily perfect.
Philosophies also formed around fire pits, catalyzed by brain-bent questions.
“What do blind people see when they dream?”
“What do deaf people hear when say things to themselves?”
The inquiries were inspired by the strange creatures who guest-stared in their early morning dreams and that the house across the yard from where they were warmed by the burning timber belonged to a deaf couple. One of them would smirk after yelling obscenities at the top of his lungs, forgetting momentarily that the rest of the neighbors had functioning ears and young, slumbering children, while the other was hasty to remind him with disciplinary hushes.
In the glow from the fire, they tackled questions others had wrestled with for centuries, unbeknownst to them. God was explained away with logic and science and He argued back again when lighting struck the birch tree a a few yards form where they stood. Nothing was based on what they read in books, unless it was the bud of a thought from something they’d read for school or something from they’d seen in a movie. They talked about religion, about The Bible, about what they learned as kids in wooden pews and whether or not it was just a way to keep families glued together until the kids were old enough to think for themselves. They pondered their existence and spoke of the universe like infants who reached out for the balls of a mobile above his crib, the purpose of its being there to dangle unsolvable mysteries just out of its reach. They talked about space and time and whether or not they were all just figments of each others’ minds, their unused eyes never opened to the real world, just bodies floating in the pink goop of a pod somewhere, as suggested by popular science-fiction. They had no syllabus, no founded research, but these debates would stay with them longer into their lives than the lectures they listened to the lips of mustached football coaches preaching government or gray-haired geometers who required quantified answers.
Years from now, they would remember in detail the discussions from their campfire philosophy course and the dome-lit debates and they would wonder on what they had learned in the years since and if truth wasn’t just something you make with your friends in the smokey front seat of a your first car.