It’s amazing what a 20-minute drive accomplished.
Watching the city lights rush past in a blur, I wound down the window and stuck my head out, feeling the night air nipping at my face. It made my veins fill up with life. For the first time in a while, I was feeling alive. I heard her laugh from the driver’s seat, a casual hand on the steering wheel, the other out the window forming waves in the rushing wind.
So this was living.
We parked up in the middle of nowhere and I clambered into the back of the ute, I could barely feel the cold metal against my back despite wearing a thin crop top beneath a plaid shirt. I wrapped myself in a nest of blankets, close to her in the confined space. The stars twinkled like ambers embedded in a soft quilt, covering the land in a heavy embrace. A moving river of red diamonds; the rarest, most expensive of diamonds— but tonight we got them for free. Tonight everything was free.
Our two headlights pierced the darkness, illuminating the simple wasteland spread out in every direction. In the river of light, I pulled her up to her feet with me. A smile played upon my lips, curving them upwards. In the darkness, she couldn’t see the way I giggled under my breath, watching her arms rise above her head, moving her body to the rhythm of a country song.
“Baby, there's a shooting staaarrrr.” The slight lilt of her voice blended with melody, passion turning her singing to molten gold. I laughed and joined her, my arms flailing in an unmatched lack of coordination. Nowhere, in any realm would you find someone with the same capacity for awkwardness.
Her laughter joined mine and it filled my heart with joy. Everything felt right. I had never felt this close to anyone. Could never imagine being this comfortable with anyone else.
“Let’s run away, just you and me,”
My eyes implored hers, noting each shadow cast on her face and every glowing surface that set her skin on fire. The stars had channelled their magic through the headlights to beam themselves onto her. She became the sparkling amber, a vision of blonde hair topped with a cowgirl hat and a smile so wide I knew I would follow wherever she went. I indulged in her American accent, letting her happiness fuel my own.
“Get away from here?”
Her hand went to mine in earnest and she spun me in a slow circle, mockery of a waltz to classical music. I could still hear the music from the car radio in the background, but only in my subconscious, it was static and quiet now. It fell deaf on my ears, nothing more than mumbling.
“I thought you’d never ask.”
“And your family?”
“Screw ‘em,” Her eyes shimmered in defiance. “They don’t own me anymore.”
I spun out of her arms, letting my feet shuffle to the side, making a fool of myself to provoke more laughter from her lips.
“Where should we run to?”
Diamonds, riches, jewels. All valuable things in this world moulded into a single form. I was intoxicated by the cold heat flooding my veins, sending a blush over my cheeks and frizzing up my hair. I could see my breath floating up into the air but I was riding a high —immune to the darkness, immune to any lows in my life, immune even to the icy breeze— when she was whispering to me as though we were in a secret club. Murmuring to me as though I’m the only one in the world.
“Promise we’d always have each other.”
My parents would tell me to settle down, be contented within the mundane life. Go to school, get good grades. Earn your degree, get a better job. Work in that job until you retire or die. Financial stability, a predictable, known future. But what if that was never what I wanted? What if what I needed truly, was a friend? Like the pirouetting silhouette of the silver angel before me, her hair hula-hooping around her head, an easy grin plastered to her face. I wanted her to forever feel that way; happy. And I wanted that too.
I sat against the ute, staring at her and then falling back to look up at the sky, mumbling the words to her favourite song. I reached up my hand, thinking I could touch the stars for all I was feeling at that moment. I traced the lines of constellations I couldn’t name and planets I would never visit. The moon seemed to create a double shadow falling from the figure of Faith. A girl who had struggled, a girl who bore scars and secrets. But a girl who I would spend the rest of my life with to slowly learn new things about every day.
I wasn’t religious and never had been. But watching her dance that feverish night, I began to believe. Not in a God or any being up above. No, I began to believe in joy, in love, in life being something other than a mistake. For the rest of my life, I would follow after her, forever keeping Faith. I was done with the patriarch, done with the pretence. Done with being what other people wanted. It was time to become my own person. Someone who listened to their heart no matter how foolish it seemed. Someone who realised when everything they wanted was singing Tim McGraw while dancing on a dirt road by the light of headlights and the night sky.
I felt her lay down beside me and the heat of where her arm brushed mine. I turned on my side and faced her. The crystalline glitter of her irises in the dim light and the quirk of her eyebrows issued me the challenge, her dilated pupils electric with the dynamic.
“Let’s do it, ride off into the sunset, not a dime to our names. Right now, let’s just go and figure out the rest later.”
I made a choice for myself.
From the heart.