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The Good That Comes of Speeding
After one last kiss, he got out of the car and walked inside, leaving me awed thinking about how my nights never turn out as expected. It all started with a speeding ticket. You all know how that goes: you speed, you see the flashing lights, you end up in court, ticket in hand awaiting the punishment. I was going sixty-eight in a thirty-five zone and I deserved the ticket, but that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t pi**ed about it.
I picked out a really cute court outfit, hoping they’d be nice to me. They didn’t even notice. My sentence was an eight-hour correctional driving course to learn the effects of speeding. Great. I knew how to drive, I was good at driving, and eight hours is a long time. That was one part of my summer I was not looking forward to.
The day of the class came when my parents were out of town and my grandma was in charge of Anthony, Travis, and me fir the week. The class was from 4-8, so I kissed her goodbye at 3:15 and told her not to expect me home until much later; I was going out after class.
The Cook County Courthouse is always scary, even if you don’t have to see the judge. My heart was racing as I walked in, but the second I sat down near the back and realized there was no cell service in the basement chamber, I forgot about being nervous and became annoyed. I was in class with a bunch of potheads, motorcycle dudes, and a few foreigners speaking broken English in an attempt to make small talk. There was one boy about my age, but he got there late and had to sit in the front. I noticed him almost immediately and wished I would have gotten there later so I could talk to him instead of these other weirdos. He was tall with dark brown hair that matched his eyes. He wore sweatpants and a tee shirt, but somehow he could pull it off. He looked like a total bad*ss, leaning back into his chair as far as he could go. He amused himself by popping Mike-and-Ike’s into his mouth nonstop.
The four hours that first day felt like four days. I amused myself by playing a Tetris demo on my phone, but it could only entertain me so long. Then I counted my pulse and found out how long I could hold my breath for: two minutes and twenty-one seconds was the record.
When we were finally set free, I all but ran into the crisp, uncharacteristically cold summer night. I got in my car and sped off, annoyed that my class cut into my going out time.
The next day was much the same. I got there early and sat in the same seat. People gradually streamed in, each sitting in the exact same seat as well. All except one.
He got there earlier this day, that guy, and chose the open seat next to mine. He flashed me a smile and fell into the chair, pulling out the Mike-and-Ike’s again.
This might make the class go by a little faster, I thought. He introduced himself as Don and began talking. I didn’t even realize that a half hour had passed and that the class had started. Don was a twenty-year-old veteran, if you could call it that. I’m not sure what qualifies a veteran, but he served in Iraq, so I think of him as a veteran. I’ve always had a thing for military men…
When the instructor yelled at us for talking, he moved the conversation into our booklets. We wrote throughout the entire class. I learned that he lives in Glenview, might be attending a community college next year, drives a motorcycle, smokes a pack a day, and deals drugs. What a catch… At least he made class pass by faster.
When our first break came, he grabbed my hand and led me outside into the again cooler-than-usual summer breeze. I kept telling myself that he was just an interesting kid making my class more fun, I wasn’t going to see him again, I shouldn’t see him again; he’d be a bad influence. I never listen to myself.
We sat outside and talked for the duration of the ten-minute break, and on our way back inside, he programmed his name and number in my phone. Back in the class, notes continued.
Before I knew it, I had agreed to hanging out with him as soon as we were free to go. We received our certificates of completion and headed towards my car, thinking of things to do. We decided that whatever we ended up doing, we’d need warmer clothes, so we drove to his house. I was supposed to be at my friend Marikate’s house twenty minutes ago, but I ignored her third phone call.
Now clad in a pair of his sweatpants and a huge sweatshirt, we went out. He said he knew just the place we could go, but he insisted on driving my car. He only drove for a few blocks when we pulled into a parking space in front of a park. Interesting, I thought, he likes the park too.
He led me to the baseball diamond and helped me climb the metal fence surrounding the batter’s box. Laying all the way up there, the stars were a little more visible through the Chicago smoke. We were just talking, but I lost all track of time and stopped feeling my phone vibrating through the layers.
The next time I looked at the small screen, it read 11:45. There were also fifteen missed calls; I really had to go. I dropped him off at home and he kissed me goodbye, promising he’d call tomorrow. I watched him walk inside before slowly pressing the gas and heading towards Marikate’s.
My heart was still pounding as I dialed her number, trying to come up with explanations for where I’ve been. My mind was blank so I muttered a quick, “good story, I’ll tell you when I get there be there in ten.”
The eight hours of driving classes obviously didn’t make a difference because I practiced the same bad driving habits I always have as I read the text that just appeared on my phone. “Still thinking of you…I had a great night.” Just then, I reached my hand into his sweatshirt I was still wearing to find a box of Mike-and-Ike’s hidden in the pocket.