“It’s time,” she said, grabbing her suitcase and striding toward the…
“It’s time,” she said, grabbing her suitcase and striding toward the empty road. Her teal tank top was a bright beacon against the unrelieved beige and brown of the desert.
“Time for what?”
“Time to end this soul-suck of a friendship.”
Roadside gravel dug into her high heels, scratching the soft leather. Her suitcase left two shallow grooves in the dust behind her as she went, and its locked wheels screeched in protest.
“You’re crazy, Allison!” I called to her from the shelter of the car. The car’s engine was dead, but the roof provided welcome shade. The morning had dawned hot and cloudless only a few hours earlier, and now the sun blistered the asphalt road, turning it into a ribbon of sticky tar.
Allison kept walking, as if wandering off alone into the desolate New Mexico landscape was a sane decision. I got out of the car, irritated and concerned at the same time. Should I go after her? I glanced in the back seat and saw all four of our remaining water bottles there; common sense appeared to have suffocated under the press of her anger. She didn’t realize – or didn’t care – that she was going to collapse from heat stroke before the sun reached its highest point. Maybe she thought it was a better fate than spending another minute with me.
Did she want me to beg, to run after her and plead for her forgiveness? I wasn’t sure how I could convince Allison to come back to the car with me, not after my accidental revelation had kindled the fire of her rage. Her figure was diminishing in the distance. I wouldn’t be able to catch up to her now without running. I sat back down under the shade of the hatchback, shading the sun from my eyes with my hand as I watched her. A car had to come by soon, I thought to myself, firmly setting aside the fact that not a single vehicle had rolled past our stalled Honda in the last two hours.
Just then, as if in answer to my prayers, I caught the glint of an approaching blur of white light, much farther away, barely cresting the horizon. I stood up again, trying to get a better look. I squinted and made out the shape of single glinting headlight.
A motorcycle. Figures. Where is an air-conditioned charter bus when you really need one?
The bike roared along until it reached Allison. Then it stopped alongside her — close enough for me to take stock its rider’s alarming size, but too far away for me to hear what he said. Allison kept walking, but the rider eased the motorcycle around and began rolling alongside her, keeping pace with her stride. Great, just great. I jumped up, and ran around the car to the passenger side door. I opened the glove box, and dug through old parking tickets and stacks of McDonald’s napkins until I found what I was looking for. I took off in a mad sprint then, my sweaty palm wrapped around the tube of pepper spray, and cursing under my breath as I ran. I was going to have to save Allison – again – and not that she would appreciate it. I was willing to bet she’d still be holding a grudge, even after I rescued her, and all over of a boy neither of us had seen since we’d graduated high school eight years ago.
I was nearly upon them when what I saw next brought me to a dead stop. Allison – spoiled, bratty, perpetually over-dressed Allison – climbed on the back of the motorcycle and wrapped her arms around the waist of the biker, discarding her Prada suitcase on the side of the road as if was nothing more than roadside litter. For a split second they both turned to look at me, but all I could do was stare in shock, jaw dropped and speechless. The biker – he was attractive in a rough and windblown sort of way, I was now close enough to note – gave me a rakish wink, and Allison bid me farewell with a less friendly hand gesture thrust vigorously into the blue sky above her. The bike growled like a bear, and then they took off, leaving me behind, alone and friendless.
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