Night Ride

And it's funny,

so funny

because you tighten your seat belt

and glance nervously,

furtively,

quickly

(sneakily)

at the speedometer

as the needle rises

higher and higher

until a sudden stoplight

makes it screech to the

zero

and the engine revs

and your heart paces

wildly

as you try to

control

your similarly rapid breathing,

and you're scared,

so scared

because you don't want to die

- or so you plead with God over and over again –

and this isn't what you bargained for,

this just isn't fun

and your parents would kill you if they found out

because you're supposed to be "responsible"

and you just don't want to be riding with a driver like this

but you can't ask to be let out

or for the driver to slow down

because you'd be a baby,

a goodie-two-shoes,

a weirdo

and you don't have the courage to stand up anyway,

so you give in,

you give in

and you play the game like you do every day,

just another way of playing your life,

the "best actress in a continuing drama"

(because no one even suspects you're acting, and isn't that the point?),

laughing uproariously at corners taken much too fast,

insults shouted out windows to make driver's mad enough to spur on a race,

cackling at surprise "bumps" over curbs

and smiling at the feeling of the wind in your hair

as you approach 100 mph on the interstate

with wet roads no less,

music blaring and pulsing from the speakers in front of you

and after a particularly "purposeful" fishtailing and spinning

in the wet grass beside the road you scream

"That was freakin' A!"

while ignoring the fact that your knuckles are bleach white

because your fingers can't uncurl from the door handle

(thank heavens it's nearly midnight so they can't see it)

and you turn the attention to the friend

laughing in the backseat

who flew all over to land in the floor

because she's not wearing a seatbelt

and secretly you hate it,

you hate them and their impulsive stupidity,

you hate everything

because you're scared

and you're silent

and everything's

out of control,

but you can't stop acting

because this is your job,

this is what you have to do,

the will to be impulsive and reckless must overcome

your fear and rationalization,

the body's natural will to survive,

because you're a teenager,

because they're your friends,

because this is what you

have to do.