The Curve In the Road

Over the weekend I pulled out a handful of old stories and ongoing projects, desperate to get myself writing.  I found this story which I started so damn long ago.  The first drafts were edited by Ivy, Arwen, Kat and Double Ears.  This is the second draft.  Tell me what you think!

You were not seventeen. We took your dad’s car and drove it all the way to the top of our city, where you can see everything. Yo were already jumping out of the car before I killed the engine. With this elation that I’ve only seen in you, you yelled, “Goddammit!”

I reached for the door handle. “What?” I yelled back.

Can you believe this is all ours?” I looked at the thousands of lights sprawled across our town as you stared straight up, your face mirroring the handful of stars we could see in the sky. I released my grip on the door and looked at you, too nervous to smile. You wrapped your arms around my waist, gave me a quick kiss on the cheek. You said, “C’mon now. We’re all right.” The way your voice cracked, the slight way your body jerked when you got excited, always made me have hope in things, you know? Like the world wasn’t so bad.

I needed my arms around you, so I kept them there even though it wasn’t supposed to be right. I knew. I was twenty then, getting ready to go to college, to learn something, do something other than this. But everytime I thought about leaving I thought about you.

On our second or third 40 I was posted on the hood of the car while you tossed pebbles over the cliff. I was having second thoughts about school, about leaving town for good. I can still hear you saying, “You have to go…” The night was balmy, like the Gulf Coast in summer. “I just think about, like, how I’ll be out of school soon,” you slurrped the dregs out of the bottle and licked your perfect lips.

Yeah,” was all I could muster.

I mean, it sucks! We’re like best friends, you know?” Yes, I knew. I was trying to remember where Polaris was as you slid along the driver side door, closer to me. I looked back at the sky and I could feel you staring at me. “What?” To this day whenever I try to play coy I end up lookin like a fool, but you kept that sly face on – where you kept your eyebrow cocked high to the right of your narrow face and your mouth followed suit.

School…” I always talk when I should listen.

If I was going away in two weeks, I would just take you with me,” you said, still smiling like a joker. Why was that funny? I didn’t get it. You leaned in and kissed me so quick and I didn’t pull away. I moved closer, shifting the dirt beneath my feet. Your hands were so light on my waist and I think mine were more like lead. I didn’t dare let go.

I didn’t feel that drunk. We were just tripppin on the city. I was driving over the hill to get to that second view when all of the lights in the city suddenly went out. The stars seemed to jump out of themselves right into our eyes. We were laughing and whooping when I missed that curve in the road and your head flew through the window. Bright lights and blood and panic.

We finally got to the hospital and your dad was already there. You only moved when the gurney did. You held your eyes shut, like you were dreaming. There were doctors and nurses and someone actually yelled out the word “Stat!”

I couldn’t believe the blood. They wouldn’t let me come in so I had to wait with everyone else in triage. They kicked your dad out too, and he wasn’t saying anything yet. He ran toward me next, his arms out ready to grab me. He screamed, “What happened, goddammit?”

I didn’t want to tell him. We were crying and hysterical in each other’s arms. My chest spasmed and I blacked out.

As I dreamt, I replayed the stars and the lights and the curve to the soundtrack of your heavy, echoing laugh. When I finally opened a blurry eye I remembered where I was. Relief swept over me for several minutes until I remembered your smiling face stuck with shards of glass. I puked and heaved all over again. The walls were so white, and the floor and the uniforms checking my pulse and my eyes; the lights they were shining in my eyes and the sheets, everything a white dwarf.

Where’s my friend?” I asked the first nurse I could focus on. He was big enough to block out the lights over my head. He kept talking without looking at me. I followed his eyes to your dad, weeping in the doorway with two cops on either side of him. The nurse’s face was contorted in half hearted lament and sorrow.

I laid my head back and closed my eyes and breathed.

In that dream we got away.


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