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Gullible, Lovesick Puppies

I try to focus on anything else. The rumble of my sister's tires on the uneven pavement. The corners of the windshield that are a shade darker than the rest because the wipers don't quite reach. The blur of trees outside that we appear to be passing faster than we actually are. Even the fruity, nauseating smell of Courtney's cheap perfume. It doesn't matter, as long as I'm blocking out the love songs humming cheerfully from the car radio.


Courtney is what some would call a hopeless romantic. Well, some meaning those who want to put a positive spin on it. I, as a girl who is remarkable for my ability to put a negative spin on anything and everything, would call her a gullible, lovesick puppy. She is the type who blasts music about the perfect relationship, about kisses in the rain, about boys with blue eyes that make your heart melt. She chases the possibility of a happily ever after, a Prince Charming, a knight who will fight to defend her honor. She will settle for nothing less than the perfect human being, and until he comes galloping to her on his trusty steed, she'll wait for him. Her soulmate.


She's still single. Go figure.


Despite the effort I'm putting into it, I can't block out the music. Come on, Derian, I encourage myself. If you can block out your algebra teacher for an entire class period, you can ignore a three minute song. It isn't that simple, though, because it's not just a three minute song. It's a radio station full to the brim with sappy three minute songs. Once a song about cute picnics in the park is over, a song about cuddling on the roof at night takes it's place, followed shortly by something about kissing and finding shapes in the clouds. You'd think Courtney would get tired of the repetition. Ha. No such luck.


Perky, upbeat notes. Squeaky, happy voices. I can't stand it, and yet Courtney can't get enough of it. Why would she — why would anyone — like this? I'm wondering as we come to a stop at a red light. Courtney starts humming nasally. I grit my teeth, but that sends me over the edge. I recline in my seat, lift my leg, and kick the off button on the radio. Courtney gasps, startled.


“Derian!” she cries. “What's wrong with you?” I don't answer her right away, because for some unfathomable reason, I feel tears welling up in my eyes. I shift my gaze to the roof of the car and blink them away, taking a deep, shuddering breath. “I hate that song,” I say, although that's not the complete reason. Courtney is staring at me so intently that I just wish she'd look away. It's a good thing we're at a stoplight, or we'd be dead. Her jaw is slack and she's staring at me as though she has never seen such a creature in her life. “Then you could have asked me to turn it down until a different one came on,” she says, bemused. That's not what I meant at all. “No,” I say, shaking my head. “I don't like any of these songs.”


“I love these songs,” Courtney says sharply, as though she is defending her children.


“I know you do,” I say. “I don't.”


She crosses her arms over her chest and asks, “Why not?” I'm not sure what to say. In my own mind, my reasoning behind it makes perfect sense, but when I prepare to voice them aloud, my thoughts sound like they would come across as ridiculous. I try to look anywhere but at her, and instead of answering, I say, “Green light.” Courtney sighs and puts pressure on the gas pedal.


We drive in silence for the next five minutes. Courtney has turned the radio back on, taking my lack of a proper excuse as permission to. This song is about how the girl singing and her boyfriend are going to be together forever, until death do they part. I resist the urge to scoff as Courtney sings along softly. The song is nearly over when I shout in frustration, “You would be so much happier if you didn't listen to these songs!” She looks exasperated, and this time she is the one who turns off the radio. Luckily, she can't stare at me this time, because she has to watch the road. “How?” she asks bitterly. “Explain to me how I would be happier, Derian. Would I be happier if I listened to your angst-ridden screamo music?”


Somehow, I already have my retort ready. “You wouldn't be so gullible!” I yell. “You wouldn't spend your time chasing some kind of love that doesn't exist! You wouldn't be so aware of what you're missing out on! You wouldn't be so sad that you don't have that fairytale love story... You wouldn't be so disappointed when guys let you down because they don't live up to your expectations... May it be because they cheat on you, or don't return your phone calls, or...hit you. Don't tell me that's not how you feel.”


My eyes lower to the ground, and the atmosphere in the car has changed. Courtney knows that my ex-boyfriend Jared used to hit me. Jared even landed me in the hospital once when he beat me unconscious because he thought I was cheating on him. He was arrested that night. By that time, he had already ruined love for me and left me only with fear. She places a light hand on my shoulder. “Der,” she says. “Is that how...you feel?” I don't answer. Instead, I say halfheartedly, “Both hands on the wheel, Court.” The car is silent for a few moments.


I can't help but reach over and hug her when she changes the station.




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