Girl Talk: Drive

Dedicated to my godmother and the train she rides. 

She gets in the car. Breathes. Sits down. She’s done this before. The night is unraveling above her, a thick wool blanket, and bright lights beam out from the moth-eaten holes. Stars are mistakes. She takes the keys out of her pocket and they stab her hand softly, fighting to the end. They aren’t afraid of her; it’s the other way ‘round, the other way home. She fiddles around with them, holds the ring and swings the loop around so she can hear the wrangling. The keys and keychains crackle together like lightning. Destiny. She looks at the golden key for a moment, letting it shine under the car light, and quickly jams it into the ignition. She turns. Roar, says the car. Roar roar roar. She can’t talk like that.

She blows out a steady breath and an unsteady one hobbles into her mouth. She breathes like that. Breathes. She drums her hands on the steering wheel. Turns. This way. That way. But nothing moves, not yet. She has to start moving. She has to take the…the…She reaches for the shift and drags it icily downwards. But it does not move. She’s gripping it too hard. Or too light. She doesn’t know. She doesn’t know cars. The gas is roaring out. It is too loud; somebody will hear. But she has to drive. Hear me? She has to drive. Her chance is slipping away. Someone is neatly rolling up the thick sky above and it’s getting lukewarm up there. Don’t go, she pleads with it. Don’t go. But it’s going. She sighs. She has to do it now. Now. Do it now. Now. She tilts the mirror down and looks into it. She sees herself. Empty seats behind. Empty? She tilts the mirror a little further down and stares harder. Empty. Just ghosts. She moves the mirror back into position hastily, not sure what she was doing with it anyway, and grips the shift. But she can’t move it. She can’t. Now. Now. Do it now. Do it now, God. Just do it. Just do it. Drive. Drive. Drive. The engine hums with her, spurts rage. Drive. Drive. Drive. Her fingers thrum against the wheel, pulling forward, pulling back. Drive. She sighs again. She lets her fingers slide down the wheel like rain. On the windshield. She unbuckles her seat belt. Gets up. Opens the door and gets out of the car. She breathes. Lies down. The sky flips over and is roasted golden brown. Drive, she whispers in her sleep, drive. Drive.

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