Last Night, First Night
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.
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.