“Are you coming tonight? Why am I asking, of course, you are!”
“I’m actually not.”
“Yeah, I’m gonna stay in the dorm and study, or watch a movie, or do something else. I don’t know. I’m not coming to the party.”
“Did anything happen? Do you wanna talk?”
“Nothing happened, Gina. I just don’t feel like coming, that’s all.”
“But, wait… I don’t get it. You were waiting for this one for so long! And you’ve always been the star of our parties. You were the one to invent vodka-lime juice-cranberry syrup! You got us all into dancing under lo-fi, however that ever happened?! What do you mean, you’re not coming?”
“I don’t know. I’m tired of that. It’s the same thing every time. Different drinks, different tracks but same thing.”
“That’s why it’s good. I mean the whole week we learn new things, we experience new emotions, unexpected events happen to us, and on Friday nights… we just do the same thing. It’s the feeling of home.”
“Okay. I guess that’s it if you need an explanation. I don’t want the Drunk Duck to be my home anymore.”
“Okay. Enjoy the party.”
Gina opens the door. She closes it again.
“What’s with this high-strung attitude?”
“What do you mean?”
“What’s with all the I’m better than you all attitude?”
“Gina, calm down. I’m not better than anyone. I just want to change my lifestyle a bit. Is that so hard to accept?”
“So what? Now it’s all like, you Gina, just keep doing the same shitty thing, while I, the great Kate, attend more serious business.”
“What do you say we go on a one-night road trip?”
“Yeah, why not? Since I have my driver’s license already, we could just grab a couple of bears and take a drive to the lake.”
“You can’t drink and drive.”
“One beer won’t do anything to me.”
“You want to go on a road trip together, now?”
“Yeah. One day of missing the Drunk Duck party won’t kill you, right? Get changed, I’m starting the car and going for beers. I’ll be back in 10 minutes to pick you up.”
The track is “Looking for the Summer” by Chris Rae.
The night is full of hidden crickets and stars far away, outside of the campus site. Kate changed the lights in her car to warm yellow the day she bought the vehicle from a retired countryman selling his belongings. God only knows how she convinced the dude to sell it to her for 1500 dollars. Kate has a way with people, that’s for certain. There is something extremely charismatic in her, but not in a cocky sense. It’s more of an honest to herself and this all-accepting attitude she has toward life. The night outside is chilly enough to feel comfortable in a sweater and a pair of boots.
Gina raises her head out of the window. And screams.
The track is as loud as the night is quiet. Gina comes back in. Gina is nothing like Kate. She would want to have Kate’s reserved-cool attitude sometimes. Other times, Gina is happy that she is that much lighter and less egocentric. Two Kates would be too much in one dorm. Gina feels strongly, both joy and sorrow, anger and grief. Gina is the kindest and purest soul Kate has ever known, although this kindness often makes her put logic aside.
“Kate, you’re the best god-damned genius, how did you come up with this?”
“I guess vodka cocktails aren’t the only good things I come up with, huh?”
“Right...” Gina rolls her eyes.
Gina raises her hand out from the window. She sways it with the waves of wind. They are on a road crunched in the middle of two grassy mountains. The air is warm on Gina’s arm. She has already opened a beer and feels the blue sky on the palm of her hand.
The next track is “Curse of the Traveler” by Chris Rae
“What is your dream?”
“What do you mean?”
“Your dream, Kate. What would make you absolutely happy? What is something you have to do, or… Or you’ll just die.”
“I don’t really know. What’s yours?”
“I don’t know. But I need one. I feel like your dream is the one thing that nobody can steal from you. It’s, in a way, the very thing that makes you independent. That as long as you have this vision, your life has a purpose and you don’t have to rely on others to fill in all the gaps. Because you know what you need and even just knowing that can be enough.”
“How do you know what that dream is, though?”
The next track is “Happens to the Heart” by Leonard Cohen
The car travels on the straight road with occasional stone bumps that make its wheels hop up and down.
Gina’s hand resigns. She relives her arm muscles and her gold-colored bracelets swing back and forth under the rain, hanging on the frame of the window shaking on the bumpy road.
Kate is swinging her head back and forth under the tune and humming to the song. She is a brunette, has brown eyes and freckles. She has expressive features. Gina is a bit of the opposite. She has a soft face, green eyes that have pierced through many hearts through their interesting mix of love for adventure and simplicity.
Before they reach the river, the last track is “Midnight Blues” by Snowy White & The White Flames.
They are quiet.
“Cheers! I’m having my second one!”
The two beer bottles clink in front of the quiet view of the misty lake. The girls lay down on the blanket that Kate spread on the grass.
Kate pulls a pack of cigarettes from her pocket.
“I thought you didn’t smoke.”
“Only when I feel really good.”
“I want one too.”
The two cigarettes burning between their fingers. They are the most beautiful things ever at that moment.
“I think we are the most beautiful things ever at this moment.”
“Right? It’s a shame this is not a movie.”
“Maybe it is. I’ve sometimes imagined movie cameras are following me my entire life.”
“And I’d always try to put on an interesting show for them.”
“This would be a good movie moment.”
“Yeah, it would. Two college girls quitting clubbing to go out to nature.”
“Did anything happen? Why did you suddenly have this change of heart?”
“I don’t know, Gina. There’s really nothing deep to say I just realized that’s not how I want to enjoy life. All these crowds, these random people you don’t know, getting drunk and then being hungover. I don’t know, maybe I’ve just grown too old for my own good. I just don’t care about that anymore.
“Yeah. You’re becoming a grandmother.”
“It is what it is.”
“Maybe this is my dream.”
“Being a grandmother?”
“Being free enough not to feel like what I have to do what the rest of them are doing. To just be able to do what I really want. Take a car and drive to a lake with you. Freedom is my dream.”
“That’s good. You’re living your dream.”
“Yeah, why not?”
“I don’t know, I always imagine there will be more. Come to think of it, there might someday be no more."
The lake is quiet. The night is dark. The only lights are those reflected from the moon behind the fog of clouds.
“Let’s take a picture.”
“Of what? Of the darkness?”
“We’ll remember what the silhouettes were.”
“Well, sure. Let’s capture the silhouettes. Why not.”