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Infinite stars stared clearly through the warm summer air, like holes punched out of taut fabric. A wide expanse of desert stretched untouched, save for a single road. The desert road was peaceful and silent, disrupted only by a single car slicing through the night. In it sits a girl, her friend, and silence.
The girl sat facing the widow, her mind too crowded to take in anything but the sky. Her eyes flitted to the front, then to the side view mirror, where she could see the outside of the car. She needed to stop the static in her head.
“You can never see this many stars in the city” said the girl.
The driver started at her sudden attempt at conversation, and shot her a strange glance.
“I suppose it’s because of the uh, light pollution and all. Right?”
They fell into silence. The girl put her hand under her leg to stop the shaking. She looked down at the carpet of the car. The static continued.
“S… So how’s Brian?” The girl offered, with a quick peek at the driver.
“Good,” the driver responded simply. They hesitated before continuing, “He was asleep when I left. I doubt he’ll wake up before I get back, the man sleeps like a rock.”
The driver smiled a bit at the thought, then, glancing at the rear view mirror, seemingly sobered up in an instant, their face going back to stoic. The girl glanced away, toward the window, and hugged her arms close to her body. She started to bounce her leg. Looking back at the stars, they started looking more and more like eyes, watching her.
“Could you turn up the heat, please?” The girl said, after a while, “I, uh, can’t seem to stop shivering.”
The driver hesitated.
“Wouldn’t it be better to keep the AC on? It’s pretty warm outside and… and it.” The driver cleared their throat, with another glance at the rear view mirror. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to heat up the car right now.”
“Oh. Right.” Said the girl, squeezing her arms ever closer to her body.
The driver noticed the action, then turned the heat up regardless.
“Thank you” said the girl.
They continued to drive. The girl looked to the window again, except this time, when looking out at the stars, she could only see headlights. Hundreds of spotlights shining down on her. They found her, they’re coming to get her. The girl starts breathing quickly. Rubbing her palms onto her pants, finding them sweaty. She looked frantically towards the backseat, as if watching for someone there.
“Hey, are you o-”
“I didn’t do it on purpose, you know” the girl said, the static in her head was too loud.
“I told you I wouldn’t ask, and I won’t. I’m just here to help.”
“And I’m thankful for that, trust me, I am, I just wanted to make sure you knew.”
“It was an accident, I swear.”
“Really, I don’t care.”
“They were just out walking and-“
“I was drun-“
“Goddamn it, stop! Just stop! Stop talking!” The driver yelled.
The car swerved a bit, and there was a thud from the trunk. Both passengers glanced towards the back of the car. They shared a look. The girl shrank back, whispering a small “okay” in defense. Tears ran freely down her face now, but she didn’t make a single noise. The silenced laid thick the air, making it harder to breathe. She looked back out into the night, careful to avoid staring back at the stars. The driver’s grip on the handle was tight, it drained the blood from their knuckles, making them appear ghostly and causing them to lose feeling in their hands. They drove for a few more minutes before the driver sighed.
“Sorry. I just. Sorry.”
“No, yeah, I get it,” said the girl. “I get it.”
They both stared forward onto the empty road that stretched into the night. The car was filled with unbearable heat and silence now. One of them reached forward and turned off the heat. It was hard for the girl to speak anymore, as her sobs had started to catch up with her. They hiccupped in her throat and stole her words. Soon the crying took her thoughts too, making her a wet, bubbling, incoherent mess. The driver turned their head slightly to look at her a couple of times. They then reached over and opened the glove compartment to take out a box of tissues.
“Thank you,” said the girl, quietly.
The driver nodded slightly, keeping their eyes on the road. The car continued speeding down the empty road. The only light that shined onto the desert was the glowing moon, helped slightly by the headlights of the car. With so little light, the desert looked black and white, and the road ahead looked ominous, foreboding. Only being lit up when the headlights hit it. The headlights didn’t reach far enough to show their destination. No headlights would go where they were heading except for the stars.
They would make sure of it.