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Drama Christmas Contemporary

It was as if the taxi driver didn’t see my hand frantically flapping in front of his windshield as he cruised by. I felt my cheeks drop as I stopped screaming for a cab; my arms crossed over my abdomen as annoyance bubbled up behind my pupils, making them roll. I scoffed and pivoted, making my way to a bench against the apartment complex’s exterior. 

I was supposed to be at the airport by noon to check-in, go through security, grab a grande caramel macchiato from Starbucks, make it to the gate at least ten minutes before boarding, and, if I had the extra time, I could watch my show on Netflix. However, seeing as no taxis are around this part of New York, it seems as though I may only have time to check-in and go through security. 

It was cold, I wanted so badly a nice, warm caramel macchiato, and it was Christmas Eve! I told my step-mom I would land around 5:00 P.M., and I’m still hoping I will if, one of these days, a taxi decides to kindly stop, pick me up silently, and drop me off with a “Have a nice day, miss”. I turned my head to find a window reflecting my very smudged foundation around the creases of my nose. My attempt at covering up acne appears to have gotten worse since high school. I placed both my middle fingers on the smudges and began to dab the cakey makeup onto my skin. It took me a second to realize an old man peering at me from inside the building, a confused, mystified demeanor upon his wrinkled face. I managed to awkwardly stretch the corners of my lips up, trying to say “I’m dearly sorry you had to witness that humiliating scene”. He nodded his head, confusion still glazing his eyes, and turned the other way.

I checked my phone, bewildered that a whole two minutes had gone by since I last tried for a taxi. I bounced off the bench, grabbed the handle on my suitcase, rushed to the edge of the sidewalk, and checked both ways. No taxis. My hope was slowly fading, which sounds dumb, but that’s quite literally how I felt. 

“Ma’am?” a man’s voice asked to my left. My head swung in his direction. He was young, probably my age; his skin was soft and lighter than mine but with a light tan grazing his flesh. His eyes were bright, a turquoise and creamy brown swirling together, a contrast to his very dark, dark hair, curling just above his brow.

“I’m really not interested in buying anything right now. Sorry,” I said in a breath. He chuckled, looking down at the concrete, hands in the pockets of his jeans. 

“I’m not selling anything,” he assured. “I was just wondering if you needed a ride? You seemed like you were looking for a taxi.”

“Yes! Yes, I was. I don’t know why they’re being so stupid today, not picking me up. Am I really that hideous?” Right as my face cooled down, it started to heat up again. “Oh - did I just say that out loud?” My cold hands flew to my lips, covering that devil up so no other humiliating thought would fly out. He chuckled again, looking at me this time so I could witness his gorgeous smile. Wow. No, I don’t know him. But wow. 

“It’s fine. The cold can mess with your tongue. So…the offer still stands,” he said, “The woman I was supposed to pick up suddenly canceled or whatever, so now I have no place to go.”

“Pick up?” Of course pick up, that’s what he just said, idiot. 

“Yeah,” he begins as his lips slightly fall from his grin, “I was supposed to go out with this girl I met at the library, I know it’s the perfect story-starter to a romance novel, and anyway, guess she found something better to do.” He sighed.

“Ugh, taxi drivers and girls from libraries are really being stupid today.” That's not funny. I’m not funny. “Well, her loss. She could’ve been the mysterious girl in a romance novel.” He smiled, his eyes lighting up. Okay, wait. I made his eyes light up…

“Right, her loss. I’m Andy,” he announced. I was pretty hesitant to introduce myself and let a cool breeze of gawking silence pass between us.

“I’m Rosalind…Rose.” 

“Rose.” I noticed him taking in my name, allowing the consonants and vowels to seep into his brain. 

“Yup,” I said. “I am Rose, Rose am I.” Ew - did I just - ugh. But he chortled a bit.

“So…” he said as he breathed in some New York air, “...ride?”

“Right, yes, ride. Please,” I practically begged. Without another word, he grabbed my bags, wordlessly insisting on being a gentleman, and motioned his eyes in the direction of his 2015 Toyota Corolla. Don’t trust this guy, he could be a murderer. But something was tugging on my brain, something telling me he looked familiar. Weird. 

I hopped in the passenger's seat as he loaded the trunk with my bags, proceeding to open the driver’s door, plopping down, and releasing a puff of air as he did so. 

“So,” I started, “you own a car. You wouldn’t expect someone living in New York to have a car.”

“Yeah, I know, but I’ve had this thing since I was 16, so I figured I’d keep it for as long as I needed it.” He put the gear-lever in drive and checked his side-view mirrors, then began to ride along the people-polluted streets of New York. “It’s kinda difficult driving in this particular city, especially since I’ve only lived here a couple months, but I mean, you can do illegal things without it actually being illegal…you know?”

“Yeah, I understand. So a couple months, huh?”  

“Mhm,” he began. “After college, I lived with my mom for a while in Atlanta, working part-time at a local restaurant, and part-time as an Uber driver. The money didn’t help very much, although there was a death in the family, which, long-story-short, led to my mom acquiring a bunch of money from the will the family member left. She wanted me to have the money so I could move here and, hopefully, pursue my childish dreams of becoming an actor.” 

“What? It’s not childish, it’s real, it’s…it’s your passion, right?” He nodded his head, peering off into the streets ahead of him with such determination.

“Yeah, yeah it’s my passion,” he whispers. It was a wordlessly unanimous decision we made of allowing the air to fill the gap between us. We rode and rode, I stared out the passenger’s window, watching flickers of buildings and gray fling across my eyes, all things I’ve seen, yet still, this city, this world, it intrigued me. 

Suddenly, disturbing the thoughts passing through the threads of the seats, the car halted, jolting Andy toward the dashboard and I toward the glovebox. 

“Gah!” Andy exclaimed. “What?!”

“Um,” I started, I could feel worry crawling up my throat. “What - what was that? Why did we stop?” Andy popped the hood from inside, then jumped out of the driver’s seat, rushing toward the front of the car. Pretending the car broke down…c’mon Rose, don’t TRUST him! I contemplated if I should get out of the car or text my step-mom and dad to inform them of the dilemma. The Toyota stalled on an empty street near an abandoned factory, so, luckily, there were no cars in the street. It was in a sketchy, dusty area, though, causing my anxiety levels to rise. I grabbed my pepper spray from my purse and opened the door, letting the very pleasant aroma of gravel and urine flood the interior of the Corolla. I cautiously walked to the front of the car, pepper spray readily housed in my pocket. 

“So,” he started, “it seems as though the engine overheated and blew the head-gasket which is - great!” He laid his wrists on his forehead in frustration. 

“Oh,” I managed to mumble. I didn’t know what to say. My brain listed all of the worst-case scenarios, as if it were loudly vocalizing, “TOLD YOU SO!”

“I’m so sorry, Rose,” he whispered with utter sincerity.

“It’s completely fine, it’s just Christmas Eve.” He gazed at me, apologies of every language escaping his eyes. “Hey, I know this isn’t the best time to bring it up, but you said your mom lives in Atlanta?”

“Yeah, I was born and raised there,” he said, ‘I’m sorry’ still trapped in his voice.

“Really? I was, too,” I stated, “That’s actually why I’m headed to the airport, visiting my family for the holidays. Any chance you went to Frederick Douglass High?”

“Yes!” He looked surprised and in awe of the familiarity. “Class of ‘17?”

“Oh my gosh! Yes! You’re Andrew McArther!”

“Yeah,” he exclaimed. “Yeah.” His voice became deep and heavy in realization. 

“Yeah,” I said, knowing the cause of his sudden shift in tone.

“Yeah,” he repeated, “I’m alright now.”    

April 14, 2023 22:46

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1 comment

Alina McCullough
12:37 May 01, 2023

Great Job


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