His knuckle lightly snaps. The sun shears through the windscreen, staining his eyes in white noise. He squints. A smoke droops from his bottom lip, unlit and waiting. The country dashes by, swirls of smoke and dirt and earth. She yawns and rolls over behind him, one arm falling limply to rest on the ground, strewn with empty bottles and cut-out articles. She has make-up running off her.
He turns on the radio and it creaks to life – an old man sings of a past he never saw – and he reaches back to grab a lighter from her pocket, grabbing her ass. He tries to light the smoke but the car passes over something, violently. The fire hits his cheek and he throws it away instinctively. He slows the car and steps out, looking back to check she is okay. Her face is blank and she murmurs air noises as her chest rises and falls.
He walks back towards the bump – something black, he tries to strain his eyes but it is so bright, so hot. A dead bird as he reaches it, now fresh tire running across. He thinks he doesn’t care, goes to light and remembers he left it with her. He rests a foot on the bird and no breathing, turns to look around. Wild, open plains and no-one else. He pushes his cap down, casts a shadow on himself. The car sputters and waits for him. He thinks, this is it, I made it. He smiles and sees himself a year ago.
He slams the door too hard as he gets back in, she stirs. She sits up and her hair dances across her shoulders. Artwork lines her, defines her against the rest. She is so clear in his vision it catches him off guard. He drops the light again. She lunges and wraps her arms around his chest, shallow breath. He feels the air leave him and the calm soaking in from her warmth. She rests her chin on his head and tells him she loves him.
He is driving and she is asleep on him. Her head rests on his shoulder and he doesn’t move for an hour for fear of waking her. The car rattles and shakes but he is still so she is. Nothing happens and continues.
She wakes and needs to smoke. He pulls over, dark out. She leans against the car and lights up, he goes to light his own but she takes it from him, says she needs two. He looks at her, lit by her flame. He thinks he should hold her but doesn’t, instead inspecting the car. No dents that haven’t been there for a long time, no imperfections his fault. He kicks a tire and his foot swings back. The stars are roaring across the sky, light enough to keep them grounded and dark enough to feel alone. He thinks of all the times to have been alive that this was a good one. He looks at her and thinks. She throws her burnt stubs to the ground and stamps them into the dirt, her white shoes taking in hints of the surroundings. He thinks he never saw his mother much in the end. She puts her hands on his cheeks and he thinks if she will be any meat any more or just bones. They fuck in the darkness.
She is driving and he is laying across the back seats, blitzing the page with his pen. He writes what he is until there is no more. She has one arm reaching back, her hand on his crotch, gently squeezing. He feels rooted and writes about sadness. She finds a song she likes on the radio and sings along, her voice filling the car. Smoke swirls above and besides him. He reads her a poem and she says that she likes it. He says he has been thinking about their new life together and she says not to think any more as they’re already there.
He falls asleep and wakes to their front drive. The house is bigger than it had looked in the pictures. They hold hands. He throws the empty pack of smokes in the trash and they go inside.
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