It’s the third day of school holidays when we decide to take a spontaneous road trip. By spontaneous, I mean I told Marcia five minutes ago we had to borrow her mum’s beat-up Corolla and head for Byron. She looks at me with her fish-like eyes and I know she’ll wuss out.
C’mon, I say. It’ll be fun. You can drive. You’ve got your P-plates now.
Isn’t it stealing? she asks softly.
Pfft! As if! It’s your mum’s car, you goose. We’re only borrowing it for a few days. Your brother does it all the time.
I can see the cogs churning slowly in that head of hers. One, two, three…
Okay. If you say so.
We grab food from her fridge, add our savings from our dead-end jobs at Maccas, borrow some money from Marcia’s mum’s purse conveniently located with the car keys, and head for an adventure of a lifetime.
Speed up, I whinge. You’re worse than my Nan. If you’re not going to drive the speed limit, I’ll take over.
She flinches like I’ve slapped her but the engine revs up. I smile, push the seat back and press my feet against the dashboard.
Umm, Rach, could you not do that? Marcia whispers. I roll my eyes and turn the music up.
As we hit the M1, I roll down the window and let my legs dangle out.
Rach! What are you doing? This time she shrieks.
Oh, relax already! We’re meant to be enjoying ourselves. This is an adventure, remember?
Her hands grip the steering wheel tightly as she glances at me. She bites her bottom lip – a thing I’ve seen her do often when her brother bullies her, or her mum tells her she’s useless.
We drive in silence for a while with Marcia sticking to her 90-kilometre speed limit. Other cars whizz past on the right. The scenery is boring, and I wish we’d taken the coastal route. I take a photo of my legs and apply the right filters to it before uploading it on Snapchat. #adventureofalifetime #roadtrippin
Did you just post a photo on Snapchat?
Eyes on the road, my friend.
You can’t post a photo after telling me I couldn’t tell mum!
I bristle at her tone. It’s not like Marcia to talk to me this way. I bite back a retort and smile sweetly instead. I sit up straight, my legs back inside. She smiles just as I undo my seatbelt.
What the fuck, Rach?
I stick my head out the window and scream with delight. The whooshing of the wind in my hair drowns out Marcia’s voice. I totally get why dogs do this. I lean over further so my body from the waist up is hanging outside the window. The car swerves to the left over the grooved lines. I feel Marcia tugging my shorts. I hold on tightly to the roof and tilt my head back. The car swerves again and I hear other cars honking.
Get back inside! Why are you doing this?
I grin, ignoring Marcia’s whining.
The car starts to slow down. The wuss can’t handle a bit of fun. But it’s then I notice the red-and-blue flashing lights behind us. Marcia pulls over into the breakdown lane. Two cops get out of the car behind us.
It’s your fault, she says.
If you’d just kept driving like a normal person…
Ladies, says a cop on Marcia’s side. There’s another on my side. I try my most winning smile, but she doesn’t return it.
Step out of the car, please. Both of you.
We obey. Marcia hands over her license, but looks like she’s going to shit herself. Or vomit. Or both.
Do you realise you’re driving a stolen car? asks the male cop.
Marcia bursts into tears. I roll my eyes.
My friend, she sobs. She said she’d kill herself if I didn’t drive her to Byron and help her run away from home.
I stare at her. Both cops turn towards me.
Is that true?
I hesitate as Marcia’s sobs grow louder.
Right! You’re coming with us, young lady. You need to be assessed in hospital under section 22 of the mental health act. As for you, they turn to Marcia. Your mum reported her car stolen – we trust you’ll drive back home?
She nods, tears running down her cheeks.
I catch a ghost of a smile light up Marcia’s face as the police walk me to their car.
© Sanch V @ Sanch Writes (8 July 2019)
Prompts this week: There are two mandatory prompts; a photograph (the featured image) and an emotion. Instead of a word or phrase that you have to use verbatim (exactly as given) in your story, you’ll have an emotion to convey through your writing without using the word for the emotion. The emotion this week was schadenfreude.