In Pursuit of the Sun, by Liza Bencheikh

I took a train across the US, from upstate New York to the southern coast of California. I’d like to say that there was some great metaphorical reason for embarking on that 3,000-mile journey, but there was none. It was not an allegorical journey, but rather one that reflected nothing more than the raw spirit of adventure. It was the sort of spirit that made you want to reject comfort, just to prove that you could. The sort of spirit that made you want to defy reason, even though you advised me against it. I hope you can understand.

My journey was marked by exceptionally beautiful landscapes dotted along stretches of dull and barren land.

I assure you, there are some parts of this continent that are not meant to be touched. Desolate gas stations and convenience stores felt like impurities in the flesh of the Red Rock Canyons.

There is a beauty, which makes you understand why the native people believed everything had a spirit. I saw parts of your spirit everywhere. I saw you in the peaceful prairies of gold and copper, and in every unique rock formation, and in glacial mountain rivers – steady and strong.

I spent much of my time in the observation car, with its walls and roof made of glass. I tried journaling, but it was hard not to feel so terribly lonesome in the midst of this expansive terrain. I couldn’t quite hold on to my words, so I held onto yours instead of going Christmas shopping and attending family dinners, and everything else so wonderfully mundane.

I was in pursuit of the sun, chasing tracks deeper into the memory of the old Americana. The night brought nothing but darkness. There was no beauty then, yet the mere anticipation of it was enough to suffice.

Still, I clung onto every last ray of light, as I had once clung onto your hand.

I knew it would be a while until I heard your voice, but I’d hear it eventually.

I knew it would be a while until I felt your skin, but I’d feel it eventually.

I knew it would be a while until the sun rose, but it would rise eventually.

And when it does, it will spread its warmth far across the horizon.

Liza Bencheikh is a 19-year-old university student in Rochester, New York where she currently studies French and Economics. Her work has been published in the Raw Arts Review, The White Wall Review, Coffin Bell Journal, Horseshoe and Hand Grenades, Sheepshead Review, and the Paragon Press. Her passion for the literary arts started in her early childhood, and by age seventeen, she had finished her first manuscript. Liza hopes to one day become a traditionally published novelist.