By Jaymie Wei
Sitting in the car, holding my phone with the directions in one hand,
but more importantly, Audrey’s phone with the music in the other,
I tell her, take a left here, it’s kind of hard to see
and then I skip like five songs because she has Premium.
Audrey is driving me home from anywhere but home
and I should know the way back from here but
everything looks different in the dark so I lean back and let
faraway satellites guide us through inky residential streets.
It is nine o’clock at night,
March of my senior year,
and I am coming up with ways to say goodbye to someone I wish I met a long time ago.
Audrey and I spent the last half hour in the bakery downtown
looking at cannolis through the glass until the lady behind the counter made us buy one,
and now our last purchase sits in my lap even though neither of us will eat it—
not Audrey, because she finally got abs, and not me,
because after half a year of selling myself,
it’s nice to finally buy something, and hold it,
and not have anyone tell me to give it away.
In this town everything is small:
the library and the park and the talk and the dreams.
But Audrey can make this town swell.
She blows into it with every breath and I wonder
if she saves any air for herself.
She is telling me about the kind of car she wants,
one with winged doors—you know, like the one Jaden Smith has—
and I think I want to hear more but suddenly
she cuts the engine and the music. She says:
Can you believe it? He gave me the same excuse. I asked him out and he said he was “swamped.”
It’s an addendum to a conversation about a boy she liked who would ask me to prom a month later—
a month in which Dartmouth would accept me and my mom would tell me she loved me and my best friend would forgive me—
But none of that had happened yet. I can still remember
the exact spot we were stopped there on that blind drive,
how it felt when we stepped out of the car and my face met the night air,
how the leftover commuters on the highway sounded from a distance,
how my hometown felt cold and sleepy and inescapably small.
Audrey is wishing this boy were easier to talk to while
I am searching for the right words and when I finally tell her
If anyone’s gonna get through to him, it’s you, I speak from experience:
from the way she hugged me when we first met,
from the way she offered me a ride earlier this night,
from the way she texted me out of nowhere yesterday,
pulling me out of my room and into the world,
accomplishing in twenty-four hours what I couldn’t do in six months.
I tell her You know what? I don’t want to go home yet
and we get back in the car and I turn up the music to a stranger
telling me he’s so happy I’m alive. The song fills our ears
as she makes the U-turn and when we’re at a gas station
pooling our wages to buy a couple more hours in her wingless car,
I think about how I’ll remember the two of us:
Audrey, infatuated with a boy,
exhaling bit by bit the city inside her lungs,
and me, infatuated with her
and everything she could make me into.