By: Kaitlin Arocho
I hear knocking at my door but I just turn away, pulling the covers over my head. The door opens. Without looking I know it’s my dad; the way he knocked and the fact that the floor creaked closer to my head means he shifted his weight to his left leg.
“Hey,” he said. “It’s gonna be eleven already, maybe you should get up.”
I don’t answer him, I don’t even move. He takes a step closer and rubs my upper arm. Knowing I won’t be able to ignore this for long I shift a little and make a just-waking-up noise. I stretch slowly and turn to face him.
“Good morning,” he says with a small smile.
“Your mom and I are going to head out in a couple minutes. Remember you said you’d take your sister to her friend’s at twelve.”
I had forgotten that was supposed to be today. “Oh yeah, she has to be there at twelve, or we can leave at twelve?” I ask, sitting up.
“You don’t have to leave till twelve, that’s why I wanted to wake you up. She’s been up for a little while already, so you don’t have to worry about that. We’ll be out for a while so if you come straight home we won’t be here.”
“Alright, sounds good. I love you.”
“I love you too, be careful.” He gives me a kiss on the cheek then turns to leave.
I stay sitting in bed for a bit, then get up to walk to the kitchen. I tell my mom bye before she leaves and wait for them to be out of the house. Then I turn to my sister, who’s on the couch in the living room.
“You got all your stuff?”
“Did you eat?”
“Are you going to?”
“I might get a small snack.”
“You should probably eat a little more than that.”
“I’ll be fine, besides, we’re supposed to go to the mall, so I’ll probably eat something there at the food court.”
“I mean as long as you’ll be fine, I guess.” I turn to start walking back to my room to get ready when she stops me.
“You know, I can call her and tell her something came up and that I need to be picked up.”
I turn around to see her facing me leaning against the back of the sofa. “Why would you do that?”
“Well, I mean, no offense or anything, but you look really tired, and I know these past couple weeks have been hard. So I wouldn’t want to make you take me if you really don’t want to. It’s not a huge-”
“I’m fine,” I say rubbing my face. “It’s fine. I already said I’d take you and I’m already up. Let me change then we can leave.” I walk off to my room. Even though I can’t see her, I know she’s staring at me with pitiful eyes.
She was right, I am tired; emotionally. However I’m not going to let that affect me today. I put on a red, sleeveless crop top, black shorts, and some black sandals. Thankfully my hair’s naturally straight, so I leave it down. I look in the mirror to make sure I look as good as I think I do, then grab my keys and wallet.
“Okay, you ready.”
She grabs her bag and we head out. Once we get into the car I turn on the radio. She picks a station and I just leave it there. Once we get on the highway I start to feel better. I’ve always felt calm going at higher speeds. Rhianna’s “Love on the Brain” starts playing and I change the station. I peripherally see her look at me but I don’t look back at her.
“You’re going driving today, aren’t you?”
“Um, what do you think I’m doing right now?”
“You know that’s not what I meant.”
I let out a big sigh, “How did you know?”
“Because you only dress like that for three reasons: one, you’re going to the mall with Diane, which I know you aren’t because you guys like to get there as soon as it opens. Two, you’re going driving. Which has to be it because the third reason is because you’re going out with Zack and-” she stops. The car fills with an agonizing silence, despite the radio still playing. “I’m sorry. I didn’t-”
“It’s okay,” I say before she starts tripping on her words. I tighten my grip on the wheel but try to seem unphased in everything else I do. “But yeah, you’re right, I’m going driving after I drop you off.” I paused because I thought she might say something. When she doesn’t I ask, “Do I really only dress like this for those reasons?”
She nods. “Honestly, I’m surprised mom and dad don’t say anything when you say you’re going out like that after six.”
“Don’t I usually tell them I have dinner plans with Diane or we’re going to the movies?”
“You do, but then you don’t come home till after eleven.”
“They know we can talk for hours.”
“You only know because you were nosy and saw my extra gallons of gas. Then you asked why they were empty after you saw I had a little trouble putting them in the trunk before I left.”
I gave her an annoyed glare and she just gave me a huge smile back. I rolled my eyes and looked forward. We continue to have small conversations here and there. We get to her friend’s a little early so I tell her to wait a little.
“You have your phone, right?”
She shows me, shaking it a little, “Right here.”
“Yes, Maddie. And my deodorant, and my pajamas, and my knife for self defence, and-”
“You don’t have a knife.”
“I know, my point is I have everything.”
I chuckle a little and shake my head. “Seriously though, be careful. If anything feels wrong, even slightly-”
“Give you a call, yeah I know.”
“These talks could save your life, so drop the attitude. Why don’t you let her know that you’re here already.”
She texts her friend and less than a minute later the door opens. She gets out of the car, says bye and that she’ll call me when they get back. I wait for her to get inside then I take off. I stop at the corner store to fill the tank and get some snacks. I eat on the way. I like to drive out to the areas that are just desert. Being away from the city where it’s just you, the land, and the sound of the engine, it is my happy place. I arrive and drive off road a few miles into it. I know people hardly ever come out here, but I still like to be away from the road just in case. I finish the snacks, put all the trash into the bag and throw it behind the seat. I put the radio on a random station and take off.
It takes seconds before I’m going eighty. I roll the windows down and just let the wind do it’s thing. My hair’s in my face but it doesn’t matter because I know this area like the back of my hand by now. I continue to drive forward then turn right around a huge rock. The turn’s a little wide, but a drifting technique is perfect. I turn the radio up and continue to drive. “…all I know. Time is a precious commodity, watchin’ it pass me is quite an oddity…” I grip the wheel harder, remembering what I’ve tried so hard to forget. “…as I see the time walk right outta the door…” Three years. All that time gone after thirty second. I bet you don’t even want me here. He was wrong. None of this was my fault. He was always the protective type. No! Not protective, possessive. “…pretending I was one of your possessions…” And jealous. He was never able to uncloud his vision and listen to me. I would listen to him every time he would tell me there was nothing between him and whoever. I never once acted impulsively. I thought everything through and tried my hardest not to jump to conclusions. I look at the speedometer and see I’m almost at 160, but I can’t stop. “…I put my life in your hands…” I start screaming, screaming over the music, screaming over the wind. I did a bootleg turn, it felt the fastest I’ve ever done it. I keep going, 185 and climbing. I haven’t stopped screaming.
But I do as I barely see a small dot of color in my peripheral vision. I turn the wheel left, causing the car to turn and I hit the break, skidding to a stop. I look out the window as the dust clears. Then I see it, about 150 feet away. The blue raised truck with a grill guard on the front. He was smart and stayed in the truck; I could’ve killed him if he hadn’t. I can’t see him but I know what expression he’s making. He’s staring at me, his face depicting sorrow and guilt, but his eyes only hold anger. I stay still, not knowing what to do. Then he turns on the ignition and slowly starts to come towards me. I take my foot off the break and take off. I know even at his top speed he’s not nearly fast enough to catch me. That and I’m better at maneuvering than he is. I start moving towards the street and get back on. I drive as fast as I can.
I keep going a few minutes after I no longer see him in the rearview mirror before I pull off and park behind a boulder. I get out and lean on the boulder so I can see the road, but no one would be able to see me. A few minutes go by and I start to wonder what’s taking him so long. As I wait I start thinking about what happened.
Two weeks ago I was at my house, studying for a final. My parents had taken my sister out shopping, so I was alone. Then I heard the doorbell ring. I thought it might have been a delivery so I went to check. When I opened the door Zack was standing there, and he looked upset, maybe a little angry. I moved back to make space and he just rushed in.
“Hello to you too,” I said.
“Don’t try to be cute. We need to talk.”
People say it’s the worst hearing that. But in that moment I remember my blood running cold. “Uh, sure. What’s up?” I asked.
“What about him? Is he okay?”
“He’s fine. But you should know that since you were at his place last night.”
I felt panic run thogut me then. Not because I was guilty of anything, but because I knew where this was going. I had to remain calm, though. “I was only there because I was helping him record something.”
“So you recorded it? Everytime I bring it up you say no, but you have no problem with him. What’s the difference between us? You think he’s better than I am?”
“Don’t be crude. That’s not the type of recording I’m talking and don’t start with your superiority complex. I was helping him record himself doing a tutorial for his culinary arts class.”
“Now you think I’m crude and have a superiority complex?”
“Well if you wouldn’t jump straight to that conclusion and ask if it has anything to do with who I think is ‘better’ then I wouldn’t think that.”
“You know what-”
“No, let me tell you what. You’ve been like this since we got together, but this is too far. I mean, you really think I would do something like that with anyone, let alone a super close friend of yours? You’ve never trusted that I wouldn’t. But then you can go and hang out with all these different girls, and get pretty close in quite a few ways, but when I ask about it I’m overreacting? I wish you would actually listen and try to work things out with me rather than jumping to conclusions and completely ignoring everything I have to say.”
“Sorry you have a problem with me looking at things the way they look.”
“I wouldn’t have such a problem with it if you would take a moment to look at things through a different perspective.”
“What other perspective?”
“The perspective I’m trying to show you. I hate that you never give me a chance to explain myself. Everyone else listens to the things I say, so why is it that my fuckin’ boyfriend won’t do the same?”
“If everyone else listens, why don’t you go talk to them. I’m sure Dylan would be more than happy to listen. He might even bake you a cake to make you feel better.”
“Or Bradley. He could take you driving, might even let you sit on his lap to show you a few tricks.”
“How about Quill the chemistry nerd? Jackson? You know how he loves to role play. Ever thought about going back to Henry? I mean really Maddie, you have them and so many more to cho-”
“Stop it!” He looked at me like he had never looked at me before. In that split second it was like he saw me, I mean really saw me, for the first time in three years. “This is the problem. You say things like this and believe what you want to believe. All those people are just people I know. You know them too, and you know that I never did anything with any of them.”
“Do I know that though?”
“I’ve been trying to get through to you, but you just keep putting up more obstacles anc moving further away. I can’t keep up.”
“You could if you really wanted to.” he said, raising his voice. “I bet you don’t even want me here or in your life.”
“If that’s what you really think I want then leave,” I started to raise my voice too. “Get out. But don’t expect me to go running after you.”
I regretted saying it as soon as it left my mouth, but I couldn’t take it back. If I did, this cycle never would have ended. A part of me was hoping he would calm down. Maybe he would even apologize and we would talk it out. But the rest of me knew it would never happen. He left silently. But the anger in his eyes was the loudest it had ever been. I waited for his truck to be at least a few houses away before I broke down. I wouldn’t be able to tell you how long I cried even if I tried. When my parents and sister got back I couldn’t even tell them what happened. I stayed quiet for a few days. Eventually I was able to tell them what happened, but they said they figured it out pretty quickly, they just wanted me to tell them. It feels like everything just happened just a few days ago but it’s been two weeks.
I realize that I’m crying and I wipe the tears away. As I wipe I see his truck go by. He had slowed down, but was going fast enough to let me know that he wasn’t looking for me anymore. It makes me wonder why he came out here. I’m surprised he remembers the exact spot. He probably just kept going until he saw a red Challenger driving around at super high speeds.
“How did he know I would be here, though?” I say aloud.
I think about this as I get back in the car. He probably went to the house and maybe even went to see Diane and when I wasn’t there he figured I’d be here.
“What if he wanted to talk?”
No, if he did he would’ve gotten out and talked over to me. I need to find a new place. I told myself I would never bring anyone out here. I broke the rule. I broke the rule for someone I should’ve known was going to break me. I put up with all of his shit over and over again. I should’ve said something sooner. I’m not stupid enough to take him back, but I was stupid then to want to keep him. I would be lying if I said it doesn’t hurt. It does. I miss having him in my life on any level at this point. I haven’t been this apart from him in over three years. It feels like my routine’s off. I miss the few moments where it felt like we were both happy. When it was just the two of us. I’ve been missing that for a long time. It hasn’t been like that since we first started dating. That’s it. I miss this idea I have of him, this perfect idea of him that I wanted but know I could never have.
They say opposites attract, and we are opposites, but we’re too opposite. I guess that’s why the world spins the way it does. Like a top rather than a ball down a hill. Sure, the North and South poles are opposites, but they don’t try to reach for each other. Guess that should tell me something.
I turn on the car and flip to a random station. “Same day on a loop, thirty two day of the month. The whining just grows, only salty, no sweet…” A small smile forms on my face and I relax. I put it in drive and leave from behind the boulder. I’m in no particular hurry, so I take my time. Letting the slight breeze and the music from the radio fill the car. “Might not be an “I” in team, but there’s a “U” in stubborn…”