The Way Things Are Now

I spent most of last summer with him, in his car. Twice a week we would put a change of clothes and some snacks in a bag and drive out somewhere for a day or two. We'd put on either ACDC or The Who, driving music, and we'd sing to every song because we knew them all so well. Wherever we went it usually wasn't too far, maybe out to Phoenix or Mesa… Tucson if we were feeling daring or we had the whole weekend. And when we got to where we were going, we never really did do much except drive around there too, and listen to the same CD we'd been listening to since we left home.

If it was hot, he'd drive to a gas station and send me in with five dollars and instructions to buy two ice cream bars for us. He'd tell me, 'Oh, I don't know, get me whatever; surprise me,' and I would buy him one of those éclair bars coated in cake crumbs, and an orange cream bar for myself. We'd sit there in the parking lot and eat them more slowly than we probably needed to, letting them last just long enough that they would drip down on our fingers and make our hands sticky in the way they had been sticky in the summers before, back in high school, in middle school, elementary school, babyhood. It occurred to me the other night that I may not do that again this year. It wouldn't really be the same, eating gas station popsicles alone. I'd probably just slip up and buy an éclair bar if I did, anyways.

Why I'm really talking about them, eating the ice cream bars, is because that's what we were doing when we got hit. We were idling in the lot outside a Chevron, and these two kids came veering off the highway, going too fast, laughing, not paying attention. They slammed into the driver's side of his car, too fast, too hard, and it smashed the door into him. I watched as his body twisted, suddenly, jerking, unprepared and afraid, to evade the impact, but too late, and it smashed the door into him. I watched then as his head slammed into the steering wheel, and saw the blood left there, and felt the impact as he was tossed into me so the blood on his head stained my dress. Oh my God, I said, oh my God.

I don't do much driving any more. It feels too strange to me, like I'm biking without a helmet or reading without my glasses. Sitting at home all the time, it's not too bad. I find new things on TV every day that I didn't know existed, and there's usually a song I've never heard before on the radio if I flip around enough. It's interesting, keeps me going. I didn't do these kinds of things before. I have to do them now.