I’m on my own shit now. Let me tell you how it feels to be fucking great. – Rex Orange County
I drummed along to the sound of pitter-patter as rain fell on the roof my Jeep. The cold, outside air and the warmth from the heater laid a sheet of fog on my windows. I traced a small happy face on the corner of my windshield, but the fog quickly filled up the bare spaces with a thin layer, revealing the small shapes of where my fingers used to be. She lived on a quiet street in a quiet neighborhood, so quiet that even the sound of rainfall seemed like it was whispering. I watched as a late Christmas ornament hanging from her porch entrance swung along to the gentle currents of the wind, the Jeep’s headlights reflecting a tinge of gold across its glassy surface.
“You haven’t removed all your Christmas decorations yet?”
With her pinky finger, she wiped a small bit of ketchup at the corner of her lips and quickly licked it away. She took another bite of her burger. “No, my grandma wanted to keep that one,” she said in between bites. The ornament was a glassy crystal ball with a white angel inscribed on its surface. Inside the ball were little white flecks, giving the illusion that the angel was floating in snow. I smirked at the thought of snow, in the middle of May.
“Are you ready to go?”
She shook her head. “No, but let’s just go. Let’s not make this complication even more complicated than it has to be.” I put my Jeep in reverse and slowly backed out of her driveway— or now, just a driveway. She was no longer a resident.
We cruised down the winding roads of her neighborhood, counting how many houses left their porch lights on. At the final stop sign, we counted about thirteen. I took a right and I watched the quiet neighborhood shrink smaller and smaller from my rearview mirror. I kept watching until it was no longer visible, until the 2am sky filled the distance between my Jeep and the house she left. “I’m sorry they didn’t get to see you go,” I said above the soft, smooth melody playing from the radio. “I’m sorry you had to go through that.”
“No worries.” The words came out as a soft whisper, almost impossible to hear if you weren’t paying attention. A tiny teardrop ran down her cheek, leaving a shiny path of bad memories. “I regret nothing.”
We drove for about fifteen minutes in silence. We passed by stray dogs, joggers, and dim Mom and Pop stores. The only sound that hung in between us was the light drumming of rain and the slow tune coming from the radio. We drove through endless puddles and pot holes, and at every bump, her small suitcase rustled in between the small foot space of my backseat. At a stop light, her voiced came above the silence.
“Thank you, by the way. For doing this.”
I took her hand in mine and planted a kiss in between her knuckles, leaving a faint imprint of my lipstick pressed against her skin. “It’s just you and me now. And when the sun comes, you’ll forget what it’s like not wanting to come home.”