I love driving a car. I love the freedom and I love the power. I love how you push down the pedal and the car responds to you.
I really don’t know why Cassie is screaming.
Okay, she’s not screaming but she is definitely buckled up and scrunched in her seat. She definitely looks tense.
“I’m just having a little fun, okay?”
“Watch the road,” she points in front of us as I swerve, with me smiling the whole time. It was my decision to take the car. We’d been riding along on our bikes and there it was, in the middle of the road, door open and inviting. Someone had left the keys in it and everything. Cassie said that it probably wouldn’t start, and I’d agreed with her – I mean, I would have left it running while I went to go do whatever – but they’d nicely shut it off before they ran off, and they hadn’t come back. We fit the bikes in the trunk – okay tied the trunk down – and took off.
The nice thing about the pretty country road is that there aren’t a huge amount of cars left over. Occasionally we hit little pockets of car clumps, sometimes with the cars willy-nilly across the road and sometimes with all of the cars pulled off nicely to the side.
Every now and then I drive past a car that’s all on its own, usually with blood-streaked windows. That makes made me a bit sad, wondering things like how close had they come to getting out? Where were they now?
The ones with zombies trapped inside are an easy story to figure out.
I slow down a little and stop voluntarily weaving all over the place to give Cassie a break. She sighs, and slowly relaxes as she starts to trust me.
“Hey Cassie, could you get my purse?”
“Sure,” she reaches in the back and pulls it into her lap.
“In the front pocket is a thumb drive. Go ahead and plug it into the stereo please,” I motion towards the USB port on the front. She plugs it in, and I turn on the stereo, filling the car with the sounds of Lady Gaga.
Cassie whoops and we both start car dancing. What the heck – no one can see us.
She rolls down the window and puts her hand out, letting it hang out in the breeze for a while, and then doing that up-down wave swoop thing.
I smile and whoop too, doing my little car dancing thing while still maintaining control of the car. The sun is shining, the bright blue sky is dotted by white fluffy clouds, I’m warm and driving a car, and there isn’t a zombie in sight.
Life is good.
I went on a trip like this with my Mom once, and that was the first time I got to drive. Things had been so bad at home, and it felt so good to get away from all of that, to get out into the bright sunshine and just drive. Drive away from the troubles, be in a special place where you got to do fun and special things because you were on vacation. Oh, and how good it felt to have my Mom all to myself, talking about books and movies and food, and fun times in her life, and fun memories that we had.
I remember just hanging out with her, just like Cassie and I were now, just enjoying the moment.
I didn’t enjoy the trip back as much, because by then I’d learned that my life was changing forever. That my Mom and Dad were getting divorced, and my Dad and Mike were moving out to California.
Everything gone, everything changed, but at least we had that bright moment in the car under the sun.
The next morning I wake up slowly, comfortably warm under a light blanket on the backseat. I don’t move, really, I just kind of open my eyes and take in the world. I feel safe and good, surrounded by the soft grey of the fabric covering the seats. The windows are cracked open a bit to let in fresh air, and just past them I see a bright blue sky without any clouds at all.
I also see a zombie shuffling slowly past the car.