He had been driving all night not knowing where he was going. It had been hours of the incessant humming of his beat up 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS Coupe filling the silence, breaking the chaos in his mind and led him along the road taking him nowhere in particular.
He had been smoking heavily, with the windows rolled down and the chilly night wind cut through his hair. He patted the passenger’s seat for his semi-crushed King-sized box of cigarettes and flipped it open; one left. He was down to his last cigarette. He sighed and put the box to his mouth to grab the last stick between his lips. Without a thought, he threw the empty box out the open window and proceeded to light his last hope for salvation. He took a drag.
He listened to the sounds of the traffic around him and his own breathing. He didn’t want to turn on the radio or listen to any music. For that moment, he didn’t want to have to think at all. His mind was shut off to the world and he was lost in the moment, just being, existing, behind the wheel. He chucked his lighter on the dashboard and carried on staring at the road ahead.
The night was dimly lit by the moonlight and the lone working headlight of his old Chevy shone enough for him to see immediately in front of the car. The light of the scattered street lamps every 50 meters flashed in his peripheral vision, like a strobe in a disco, as he chauffeured the pounding of his heavy heart farther and farther away. There had been too much going on at home.
The house was in a disarray, with boxes packed to the ceiling and so many things left strewn about, and it was so noisy. There were packers everywhere dismantling things, packing things and the sounds of masking tape screeching as they sealed box after box. His mother and father were busy barking orders and trying to manage the tedious flow of the move. It was too much. He was so overwhelmed, he couldn’t even sort out his own thoughts. Frustrated and desperate for some peace of mind, he left a quick note with his dad and took off.
As he flicked the butt of his cigarette out the window, he sighed, the last breath of nicotine evaporating into the air. That was it. What else was there? He wasn’t sure if he was ready to go back home one last time. He wasn’t sure he’d be ready to leave it again. There were too many memories to leave behind in this town. He couldn’t take his car with him either. He dispelled the questions as quickly as they came. It was no use hovering on things he was powerless over.
He almost stalled the Chevelle, shocked as he realized which road he was turning into. He half-smiled, amused at himself for subconsciously bringing him here and shook his head as he found that a parking spot was available right in front of him, eagerly awaiting his arrival as if to say, “what took you so long?”
He rolled up the windows, parked the car and locked it. His feet led him down the familiar pavement, as he walked with his hands in his pockets and his eyes tracing the pattern of the cracks on the ground. It was like a ritual.
He stopped short by the tree and made to hug it, and in one big sweeping move, he threw his weight into the tree and he climbed. His hands and feet found the familiar crevices as he climbed higher and higher until he reached the window ledge. He snapped a twig off a branch and slid it under the latch and opened the window.
He peeked past the curtains. There she was, lying in bed, sound asleep. He climbed through and landed swiftly on his feet. He looked at her again; he hadn’t stirred her. He slipped off his shoes and socks, leaving them by the windowsill, and closed the window before turning to her again.
He took off his t-shirt and shimmied out of his jeans, leaving them in a pile on her bedroom floor.
He padded across the room to her bed where she laid. He pulled back the corner of the duvet that cocooned her.
She woke with a start, a gasp escaping her lips, before her vision focused in the dark, realizing who it was. Still groggy with sleep, she scooted over in her bed until her back was against the wall and she waited for him to settle next to her.
He placed the covers back around them as he kissed her in greeting and settled to face her. She looked incredibly cute, half asleep and just looking at him. He stared quietly back as he felt her warm hand slide gently into his under the covers. She smiled at him sleepily.
His heart warmed and he felt his throat choking up and the prickling of tears in his dry eyes. He snuggled as close as he could get, burying his face in her shoulder, his frame shrinking into a ball.
Her arms circled around him, holding him closer still and he cried silently, lamenting his eventual goodbye.
Morning came and she awoke to find herself alone in bed. Was last night only a dream?
No… The space beside her was still warm. She looked around and her heart stopped. Her hands trembled as she reached for the note anchored by a familiar set of keys.
Take care of her for me, babe.
I love you.
I’ll see you soon.