I’m prepping myself for dinner with Dad when I locate the black Nissan Altima by the curb at the train station. Logging into my SlideRyde app, I tap the digits on my phone. The car bleeps and the doors click and unlock.
Sure, I could have called and had my father pick me up like he’d insisted, but I need this to be on my own terms. I need him to see me as independent, know that I’m making sound decisions. I toss my things in the back and take a deep breath. it gives me a headache just thinking about it.
Interstate/exits/suburban shopping centers give way to lush green trees and convenient country living. I’m take stock of my life, hearing my father’s questions. Yes, the job is great…Yes, I’m saving…Yes, I’m…wait, what was that?
I slow down, veer onto the shoulder of I-64 where I cock my head to listen.
I step out of the car, carefully, fiddling with the keys when a muffled scream pierces the growliing trucks and aggressive merging. The keys jingle in my hand as I debate what to do. Another scream and I jump, thumb the trunk key.
The trunk clicks, flies open, and a girl shoots out like a cannonball.
She’s all legs and fury and swatting like killer bees are chasing her. I start to help but she’s flailing. This goes on for at least three or four minutes, with her cursing and throwing punches, stomping barefoot while a couple of truckers give a toot at the show. Her hair is on the short side, but long enough for her bangs to fall in her eyes when she sees me, stops, and her face collapses.
She’s undeniably as gorgeous as she is crazy, so when she steps towards me and leans close, inches from my face with pulsing hazel eyes and heaving breaths, it’s not exactly unpleasant. I drop the car keys. When I open my mouth to speak she launches into me. “Thank you.”
This is the part where I ask what’s going on, being that she just leaped out of the trunk like a Jack-in-the-Box. But with her arms around my neck and her hot breaths on my neck as traffic shoots and darts and weaves past us, I can only manage to say, “I’m Adam?”
“I might kill him, Adam. Really. Like, murder him dead.”
She looks up, the rage dissolving as she traces a finger down my nose. Her smile takes on a mischievous tilt, enhanced by the small chip in her front tooth. “Do me a favor, Adam. Never bet on a horse named Tripod.”
“You were in the trunk.”
She releases me, spins off and grabs at her hair. She gazes out at the trash stirring in the wind of passing traffic. “My mom used to always say this would happen.”
“That you would get locked in a trunk?”
She turns back and closes one eye in the sun. “That I’d meet someone and know…”
I suppose I could offer my phone, have her call someone to help. Instead, she flops into the passenger seat and I pick up my keys and sink into the driver’s seat.
“Where uh, where should I, where do you need to go? I’m sorry, I really don’t know what’s going on. See, I got this car through an app, uh, Swipe—”
Her bottom lip is cracked, and I’m wondering just what it would feel like to kiss her chewed up lips when she leans her head back to the seat and stretches one perfect leg out to the dash. I follow her foot to her knee then down her thigh to the pattern of her shorts that reminds me of my grandmother’s curtains. Hideous things made magical against her skin. I take in the soft crook of her neck and find her eyes. That smile again.
She laughs. “Lucky you, huh?”
“I could have been a serial killer.”
Her eyes come alive. She reaches out for me, “Or an astronaut. What did you want to be, Adam?”
She’s nuts. But the way she’s looking at me. Can you just meet someone, like this? And know? I shake my head, at the thought of my dad and this girl in the same room. Then again…
“You must be hungry. Would you like to have dinner with my parents?”
“Well, will you be there?”
I can’t help laughing. “Yes.”
“Well then, I would love to have dinner with your parents, Adam.”