I’m driving towards a cloud like the ship in Independence Day, the one that hovers over America and turns everything into chalk dust. Below, a grey curtain hovers, spraying the road in front of us with water and acids. I’m deeply irritated by an ulcer that has split my cheek in half when, taking her feet off the dashboard, she points ahead and says; holy shit, it looks like a demon jellyfish.
The road, once a grey ribbon on a green package, now disappears under silver. We drive into turmoil, as the weather angrily demands entry through the roof, the windows… everywhere. L unzips her shorts and wiggles them down to her ankles as the glass turns opaque. She opens the window and hangs her head out, so I get a lovely view of that big, dimpled arse; the red blotch on pink satin tells me she’s due soon. I slow down as the conditions get treacherous. The steering wheel feels light in my hands. Everything outside is invisible. We’re trapped in a bubble of impenetrable mist, except L seems to have made a connection to the outside. She brings her head – streaked with rainwater and hair – back into the car and demands to know why I’m slowing down.
One hand on the wheel and one hand down my jeans. The more I scratch, the more I feel the blood flowing where I don’t need it right now. I wish I hadn’t agreed to be tied up. I wish I’d kicked the razor out of her hands when she purred in my ear that she wanted to shave me. I let her and, reader, do you know how difficult it is to keep yourself so still when someone is on their knees and inches from your genitals with a cut-throat and hold in a fart at the same time? Two weeks growth has given me a dose of invisible crabs. My irritation grows. Nothing is tangible anymore. I can’t stop my hands, I can’t see, I can’t go any faster and she’s already lunging headfirst into the footwell, trying to press on the accelerator as I tense up my ankle and turn it into a protective iron bar, like it’s fastened in concrete above a jail cell.
I told her;
“…when I was twelve years old, I killed myself.”
‘you look pretty good.’
She takes a strawberry lace down her throat to the fingertip and then yanks it out whole, slimy and my gag reflex wants to kick in.
‘so it’s a ghost driving this car?’
“….when I was twelve, I had a crush on a girl….”
“Does it matter?”
She sighed and rubbed her shorts over her hair to dry it off, running them down her face.
‘I know you’re lying, but I can’t be bothered to find out why. Yet.’
She was correct so I ignored her.
“I had this crush on her, right? One day, after school, I saw her mum picking her up to take her home. So I memorised the numberplate, the shape of the car, the colour… I knew which car her mum drove and I knew there was a chance she might be in it. So, every school holiday, every weekend, every evening, if I saw that car driving down the road towards me, I’d stand up straight. Give myself a confident posture. Try and make some gesture to make me look cool… oh, don’t scrunch your nose at me…”
‘…didn’t say a word.’
“….I really would y’know? Just in case Eliza was in the back seat, looking out of the window. I didn’t want her to see the little idiot that moped around school with the hunched shoulders. I wanted her to see a guy in his best clothes, looking like a boss, so she’d think wow, I had that guy all mista…..”
I stopped talking. L had a broad smile on her face and an anxious look in her eyes.
‘Do you know my mum’s car?’
‘Is that another lie?’
‘So what happened to cause you to die?’
The car was thick with the smell of nail varnish as L started to colour her toenails. She only had six.
“I went on a school trip. I had to share a room with a much tougher kid who also liked Eliza. He beat the shit out of me. I mean, he really beat me. He told them I’d fallen down the stairs and the teachers believed him. They obviously didn’t think a twelve year old could do that much damage.”
‘And you didn’t tell them otherwise?’
‘So, why did you tell him that you liked Eliza?’
‘Before he destroyed you. Why did you tell him?’
“I didn’t. He heard me mumbling the numberplate in my sleep.”
“….turns out, he knew it as well.”
I look ahead, and I see a white crack of light in the gloom. L reclines across the car, resting her damp head in my lap and soaking my crotch as her freshly painted feet hang out of the window. I can see the varnish dribbling, dancing around the contours of her toes, bones and tendons. The rain gets even more intense, but now the sky is gold and silver around us, as the clouds begin to break. I stroke her temples and let the car chug up a hill because I don’t want to move her head to change gear. The optimist in me reads her face as serene, the pessimist reads it as reflective.
The curtain lifts, the spaceship passes benevolently overhead and glides on behind us. We’ve had a warning, but this leviathan is benign. The clouds dissolve and disperse and we drive through a forest of rainbows, left right and centre, here there and everywhere. I change the channel on the radio station because there’s too much war and reality TV contestants inserting objects into themselves for money and glory. I expect words of protest from her – as I do every single time I make an independent decision – but L just continues to stare at the indigo wreckage of her feet.