Douglas LeMoine CC
He asked me to meet him in the ice cream parlor parking lot. And I really didn’t think anything of it I just thought hey friends like to hang out together and this is what friends do. And friends sit in the passenger seat of his truck and talk about the distance. The distance from the ice cream parking lot to his house and it’s only a short drive down the highway. But before the highway came into question all I tasted was vanilla with m&ms coating my tongue in artificial flavoring. The cold creaminess dripping onto my hands melting in the heat mixed with the heavy rock music coming from under the dashboard.
“Careful you’re gonna get it on the carpet”. He angled the seat back so that he could stretch out his legs and balance his elbow on the cushion in between the seats.
“No I’m not” came out in a mouth-full mess and jumbled laughter joined the mixture.
He laughed too and then leaned closer to me collecting the shade of my eyes in his gaze. I stared back but continued gliding the ice cream across my tongue. He looked like he was holding back the question that would end all answers. And I tilted my head a little, hoping he would tell me what was stirring around in the cauldron in his mind. Not a single word left his mouth he just turned up the heat and threw his body back in the seat in frustration. I thought about asking him what was wrong but he didn’t like to talk about anything that would disturb him in the late hours of the night. His insomnia held him like how a toddler holds a blanket. The toddler’s parasitic eyes tear its treasure to shreds and leaves it to wear out on its own.
The streetlight above became a pool of reflection in my eyes I saw it in the glare of the windshield. He looked over and noticed it too. His elbows crept over the console and his hands made their way up to a floating strand of hair that he gingerly tucked behind my ear. I kept my mouth pressed against the ice cream and just stared in an awkward form of awe. It was still melting down my hands but it felt more like sweat sticking in the prints of my fingers. It was a sensation that sent a quick quease throughout my stomach. He smiled gently and retreated back to the seat tapping his fingers on his ratted jeans to the music. My ice cream sunk through the napkin encasing the cone, onto my hands spreading a lukewarm puddle of vanilla across my skin.
He suddenly put the car in gear and looped his hand around the wheel. Jamming down on the gas. A jolt shook me and almost sent the remainder of my ice cream leaping to the window. He looked towards me and smirked.
He drove me up to the trashcan near the parlor and I threw the drowned deliciousness among napkins, empty to-go boxes, and cigarette butts. He turned once again and took us back to the parking spot next to the red volvo which hadn’t moved since we got there. My hands still felt as if they bathed in tree sap and battered breath. My hand moved towards the handle to go get napkins but he touched my arm before I could leave. I jerked my gaze back to his and he gestured to the glove box in front of me. A simmer of irrational panic was sprinkled onto me and I froze in a haze of confusion until he reached out in front of me and pulled napkins out of the compartment.
“For your convenience my lady” He said in an accent that wasn’t quite British or anything else.
“Thanks” I chuckled and met his eyes once again.
He watched me clean my hands. I knew because when the paper stuck to the crevices between my fingers I turned to laugh with him but he didn’t He just stared, not calmly or in admiration. I felt like the smallest bacteria clamming up under a microscope. A calm calculated millisecond before my smile turned to a frown, he zapped the space between us into thin air and kissed me. I turned away letting his tongue hit my cheek and once he realized he wasn’t in the corners of my mouth he sat up, an erroneous demeanor struck him.
“I’m so so sorry, seriously, you’re just so pretty a-and you were so cute with the ice cream, I-I didn’t know what to do, oh god”.
I shut up his ranting with a dividing shout.
“Hey! Hey, it-it’s ok” I told him. I told him it was ok.
He sat back again his hands lifting themselves on and off the wheel tapping relentlessly hoping for a feeling other than what he was feeling. I felt the same way. I sat hands interlocked, waiting for the next word to enter the air. Wondering if it was going to be from my mouth or his.
“Hey, let me take you back to my place”.
I turned to him but felt like I had moved farther away.
“I-I mean if you want to, it’s not far, just a couple turns here and there and then I’ll take the highway, I’ll have you home by 9:00”.
I lingered in the weighted seconds of decision, smoothing over any worry my mind might’ve carried into my stream of thought. And I waited for the light to glow green. I waited for the stop signs to be obliterated. Because he was a friend and friends make mistakes.
And I said ok.
The night was dying down for a Friday. All the bars I’d pass every time my family would drive into town were almost empty and I told myself stories of the few cars that were located with sadness in a lonely lot off of the side of the road. I spotted retail cashiers sweeping up the lint-covered floors in the shopping center. The sign of the 24-hour diner still flickered and it would until the sun hid the moon. The music was blaring timidly in the background but silence was all you could hear. I was itching for a loud noise, someone to start talking on the radio, or even a cough or sneeze. I didn’t even want to reach for my phone out of fear of being rude but if the atmosphere that surrounded us wasn’t being broken what else was there to do? He signaled to merge on the highway and with a quick inhale I unlaced my hands and looked to the driver’s seat.
“Have you ever driven on the highway before”?
He kept his eyes balanced on the road but his ears perked up when he heard my voice again.
“Oh yeah, I’m really good”.
“Ok good” I sat back feeling breathlessly optimistic. It’s insane how two sentences can make you feel like you’ve just ran a marathon. Cars whisked by in colors that the darkness dimmed. He merged with swiftness and we soon entered the never ending concrete path lined by shallow trees. His tires rolled faster, fitting in with the traffic that encompassed us. His hands gripped the wheel steadily and cruised at 60 sending a plastic bag on the shoulder sailing behind us. I leaned against the headrest and dissolved with the music unaware of a hum to a familiar tune. He glanced over at me and giggled, taking me out of my trance.
“You’re so cute” He said it like a relative at a birthday party. My stomach went dry again. The warmth of my blood felt like icicles pricking me.
“There’s barely anyone on the highway” He said turning back to the road.
“Yeah” I responded softly rubbing on the knot in my shoulder.
I was a little kid who believed in the tooth fairy but not the monsters that lived under the bed. Because monsters aren’t real. He started to press the gas and excelled into the stretch of the road that went on for miles that felt like lifetimes. I caught him looking at me again. The look in the parking lot where we were just friends and friends are there for you are don’t want to see you cry. And before I knew it became now and now he’s reaching 80 and oh god I’ve never been this fast not even on the highway.
“Slow down,” I told him. It sounded like a whimper so I swallowed my throat and surrounded more surging words.
“Trevor stop, stop going so fast”.
But he didn’t. He pressed the gas again and the speedometer measured a polarizing 95. Any cars that were in the adjacent lines were dust now in a past that was kinder, safer.
“Trevor seriously slow down”! I started to yell because I thought I'd become an invisible entity especially when he gave me that looked. Every press of the gas devoured me and stripped me down to the nerves that built me.
“Stop”! I screamed in his face. I didn’t dare touch the wheel I knew if I fought he could turn the car over any minute and the rapid cruise would halt, becoming screeching impact, tumbling over and over off the road into the trees, onto the demolished dirt, and glass would scrape my arms, impale my eyes and become the end of all breaths I could take. I shut my eyes, with every blink the lines of the road lost it’s balance to the speed. With every acceleration, the pace of my lungs increased. I gripped my own hands waiting for the nightmare to be pacified.
“Stop, stop, stop…” I closed my eyes and sent a prayer to his ears even though by this point I’d gathered that he wouldn’t listen. Helpless and horrified I sat quietly whispering over and over more to myself than him.
“Stop, stop stop”.
When you can’t breathe and you can’t let go of your petrified lungs and you realize it’s smarter to let the storm whisk you into an uncertain future. When pleading for a perfect situation crumbles into an obvious oblivion. You forget about all the mistakes. You send the regrets to the farthest corners, banishing them because they hurt too much to hold onto. Sometimes you’ve reached the point of no return. Sometimes you can’t win the battle. All you can do is melt.
Emme Oliver is a 17-year old writer from Pennsylvania. She has been dedicated to the craft since she was in her elementary days and continues to pursue writing in her high school years as she is the editor in chief of Howler Literary Magazine at her high school. She also writes journalistically for her school’s newspaper The Playwickian. For more of Emme’s work you can visit her website https://emmeoliver0909.wixsite.com/mysite
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