Awkward Ride This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

There's five of us. I've had to learn four names in the past two minutes. Already, I've lost three of them, and the last one is just floating around – I'm unsure who to attach it to. I never have been good with names.

It's a Honda, gray interior, an Accord, I think. I didn't see. Five seats, and I'm riding shotgun. Nobody really fought over it, just filled in the seats quietly. I was the last one in. I glance around. Strangers, all of us. All of you.


*
*
*

You sit pretty tall in the driver's seat, blue eyes on the road. A safe driver. You try to engage me in conversation without much success. I honestly can't think of anything to say. Nothing worthwhile, and the non-worthwhile stuff would only keep the talk going for a few sentences. Futile. So my responses are just a handful of words at a time.

Plus – maybe because you're concentrating on the task at hand – most of your words focus on driving: how you like driving on asphalt more than cement, how drivers who text annoy and scare you, how you're trying to break the habit of constantly going two miles over the limit. You've only been pulled over once.

I don't know how to explain that I never got around to getting my license. I have friends and family to ride with. I don't relate to you. It gives you something to say, to fill in the holes. But eventually you give up, and the comments become fewer and farther between.


*
*
*

You sit in the back and talk with her. I don't know what about – some kid named Robin and the annoyance of front rows in movie theaters – and I don't care. I think you're the only ones who knew each other before 10 minutes ago. I can't see you from here, but I think you're blonde.


*
*
*

Green shirt. You sit in the middle back and talk with her. I still don't know what about. The chatter – inane, shallow, pointless – is comforting to the rest of us. Like a blanket. You see, if you keep talking, we don't have to. Our silence is made a little more bearable because at least somebody is speaking.

Suddenly she erupts into laughter mixed with scolding, and I gather you just said something somewhat lewd. I wasn't listening. I don't want to know.


*
*
*

You're behind the driver, leaning on the door, watching the world fly by. You have short hair, and it's dark red. I'm reasonably sure that the one name I have belongs to you – Matt.

You haven't said more than six words this whole time, even fewer than me. I suspect you're the youngest.

You don't like the station on the radio. I don't like it either. I doubt the driver likes it. The other two don't seem to care. But nobody wants to be the one who suggests changing it.

After a bit, a better song comes on. You hum along quietly, but during the pauses, we can still hear you. The girls next to you pick up hurriedly where they left off.


*
*
*

I'm number five. I'm tired and blinking.

How long until we get there?

Somebody's phone buzzes. Quickly, they find it and shut it off, not even bothering to answer.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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This article has 22 comments. Post your own now!

MeganW said...
Dec. 29, 2010 at 6:57 pm
a little confusing, but i kinda like it. gud jobb
 
KrystalT said...
Dec. 29, 2010 at 3:52 pm
Um... ok. What's going on? I'm confused.
 
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