It was still six in the morning when me and Crystal finally got inside Dan's red pickup. It was old and scratched all the way from the headlights to the backseat doors, a little incident result of a cheating indicent that Dan swore to God he wasn't part of, the same way he swore to us he could still drive that old thing. And the same way his ex girlfriend didn't believe him, we couldn't believe ourselves when we accepted to ride that.

"Oh come on, I've told you already," Dan said as he turned the keys confidently, stepping on the accelerator and halting the car, "this is perfectly safe.

"I wonder just how much longer do we need to stay inside this thing until someone needs to come and save us from it, Daniel." Crystal teased cheerfully, murmuring a song under her breath before leaning over the front seats, stretching her arm out and turning the radio on. 

"Oh come on, don't call her a 'thing'. This is Angelina, and she's very sensitive." 

It was my turn to laugh at his horrible habit of attaching names to the pickup, something he got after watching Transformers on TV when we were seven and that only got stronger as the years passed and his mind recessed to the same lame jokes from high school; a week ago, he was riding Suzanne. Today, we rode Angelica. 

"You're disgusting, you know that?" 

It didn't take long before the smell of vehicles fume and burnt rubber was replaced by the wet, sweet smell of vanilla grass, until we reached the deserted side of the road and all my senses could capture was the dusty, dry air around us. From then on the street bumps disappeared under the worn out material of the pickup wheels, getting replaced by the scattered pieces of rock that layered over the cracked asphalt. Crystal and I took breaks between shouting the famous MTV hits of 2008 and quietly reading pages of the books we brought. Meanwhile, Dan jokingly caressed the wheel of the pickup while chanting about how he missed his dear Anelise - the girl that, after two years of dating, decided to 'dump me because of a cheating rumor.'

"How long 'til we're there?" I asked from the backseat while folding my finger between two pages my book, trying to foresee the ending of that powdery road. 

Dan's eyes didn't move away from the road, but his nod of head told me that he had heard me. "There's still a little more room to run before we get there, Carla." 

A sigh left my lips before my head lowered to the car's window. Slowly, I rolled it down, pushing my head inside the gap and out of the vehicle. For a few seconds my eyesight was as strong as a newborn puppy, until the blinding sight of the sun softened against my iris and I could attach names to the cotton-like clouds in the sky. 

I saw the crooked nose of a woman slowly drift away from her face, which reminded me of the time Crystal's nose wrinkled and bled when we were five and she had gotten in a fight. It was also there that we discovered she had CIPA disease. Soon the woman's nose twirled into nothing more than a splattered ball of cotton that, with time, turned to become waves breaking against the light of the sun. The sight reminded me of our middle school years, when we'd clasp hands together and make plans about the day after high school graduation. At first Crystal wanted to become a surfer, I wanted to become a mermaid and Dan wanted to become a life guard. A few years later Crystal's priorities would change a little, and the both of us would dream about saving the ocean while Dan would dream about having his own personal submarine. Not too long ago our wishes would be reduced to one in common, one that made all the three of us to accept to ride the old and rusty Angelina on our way to the beach. 

"Do you think he'd like this?" Crystal whispered faintly after handing Dan a bottle of water. Again, it didn't seem like he could speak much. The roads were now darker and dressed the bright red of the pickup with a deep tone of wine, turning sky gazing into star gazing as we slowly, and somewhat nervously pulled up in front of the velvety sand of the beach. As we walked out, Dan zipped open his backpack and pulled a heart shaped necklace out of it. Crystal and I had the same necklaces around our necks, the three of us narrowing our lips as we made our way to the shore.

The waves were calm in the ocean. The smell was of tanned skin and shrimp appetizers, underlaid with the salty, fresh scent of beach water. The air was thick inside our lungs, weighing our chests down as we opened up the small necklace pendants and allowed the wind to blow the ashes that were once there. Dan's eyes watered and Crystal's lips trembled. Our hands clasped together just like we would do as kids, fists holding onto each other for dear life as if trying to hold the pieces of ours that scattered as we made that trip to the beach. 

The sky no longer held clouds, but instead grasped the milky way and exhibited it above our heads, some stars shining bright while others remained silent, hidden underneath the small fog that began to stretch over the sand. After a while, we went back go the pickup. None of us could hide the tears that overflew in our eyes, instead embracing every one of them with a chopped up sob. The seconds ran, and time flew. 

"Do you think he would've liked this?" I asked from the backseat, boring my eyes into the seat beside the driver's, my mind lost in endless memories of the times someone used to sit beside Dan. Minutes ran, until Crystal's hand squeezed mine. 

"Of course. It was his dream to be here too." 

September 14, 2019 02:12

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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

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