Samantha Hayes

Last Night, First Night

I.

You push the gas and the truck begins to speed off across the field, your arm care­less­ly thrown over the seat while our friends in the back take turns at an almost emp­ty bot­tle of cher­ry vod­ka. You try to kiss me, but I don’t let you, shift­ing my body so my cheek is pressed against the win­dow. The grass out­side is tall and I keep think­ing of the snakes hid­den in the weeds and the tires flat­ten­ing them, shat­ter­ing the ver­te­brae of their spines. I see the reflec­tion of an animal’s eyes or maybe it’s just the dis­tant lights of an eigh­teen wheel­er, mak­ing its way through the coun­try road. You turn around, and grab the bot­tle from them, tak­ing a long drink until it’s emp­ty. You hand it back, say­ing some­thing about how it tastes like bad cold med­i­cine.

You put both hands on the wheel, tired of reach­ing for me, and begin to dough­nut in a wide cir­cle, slow­ly mak­ing the cir­cle small­er and small­er. All the peo­ple in the back slung against each oth­er, hys­ter­i­cal. Out of the cor­ner of my eye, I see you smile, a thing I once liked, but now it scares me. You slam on the brakes and my body is thrown for­ward, but most­ly my head and neck mov­ing like a whip, hit­ting the dash­board. You’re laugh­ing at us. In the back­seat, I hear bod­ies move, feel some­one push­ing against the seat, try­ing to get at you. My eyes are closed, head still rest­ing on the dash­board. I work my hand up to the place on my scalp that almost feels naked and I hear some­one yell, “Fuck you man.”

You punch the steer­ing wheel, maybe in anger and the truck’s horn goes off, break­ing the silence out­side. You tell every­one to get out. I hear slam­ming doors, and I raise my head to see all of our friends stand­ing in the waist high grass, a lit­tle unsta­ble. The truck starts to move, leav­ing them behind, throw­ing clay at their shins. I ask you what you think you’re doing but you just ignore me, wave me away with your hands, and tell me it will all be fine. “You don’t care about any­one,” I say, fac­ing the win­dow, no longer able to see our friends. I’m search­ing for some twin­kle in the sky besides the steady blink of the space sta­tion. Tonight, every­thing above me seems blue.

II.

On our first date at the begin­ning of sum­mer, you took me out to a movie about aliens invad­ing the plan­et, except no one knew any bet­ter because they looked just like us, except maybe more beau­ti­ful. On the way home, you told me the entire plot was bull­shit. That wasn’t what aliens were like, you knew because you saw one your­self. It was a saucer like the old movies, and it land­ed in the corn­field, not to make pat­terns, just to park. You told me you watched an almost translu­cent man walk through the dead field and buy cig­a­rettes at the gas sta­tion across the street. Then the ship took off into the stars dis­ap­pear­ing. When it was swal­lowed up into the sky, the place it dis­ap­peared to didn’t twin­kle like it did in the movies. You told me the moral of the sto­ry was that nothing’s mag­i­cal.

After you told me this, your car broke down before you had a chance to pull over to the side. It was just sit­ting there in the mid­dle of the road. You told me to get out and push it just a few feet so you could angle it to the curve. I pushed at the rear end with all my might while you yelled direc­tions at me. Finally real­iz­ing I wasn’t up to the task, you got out and told me to get in the car and steer. For the rest of the night, while we wait­ed for a car to pass, I was sud­den­ly aware of the sky but you didn’t say any­thing, instead kicked the edge of the road with your shoe. A truck final­ly picked us up, a thin, pale man at the wheel. You sat up front mak­ing short com­ments about the weath­er and songs on the radio though he nev­er respond­ed. Beside me was a tool box that banged into my hip with every turn the man took. I want­ed you to ask me if I was alright.  I hoped for it all sum­mer.

~

Samantha Hayes is a grad­u­ate of the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities and cur­rent­ly attends the University of South Carolina. She was pub­lished pre­vi­ous­ly in the Litmus Literary Journal.