Do You Have a Bad Feeling About This?

Submitted into Contest #99 in response to: Write a story about characters going on a summer road trip.... view prompt


Adventure Contemporary Friendship

July 2nd 

3:07 p.m.

“I hate you,” Noah said, fiddling with the knobs on the dashboard.

I fixed him with an icy stare, even colder than the air conditioning blasting out of his vents. I didn’t have the energy to argue. 

The sun burned hot against my neck as the stare seemed to go on for ages. I finally broke my gaze and turned to the window. 

Cows and cornfields, cows and cornfields.

I never thought we’d be like this. 

It was supposed to be a fun summer trip. Annelise, Mark, Noah, and me. 

Now it was just Noah and me. 


July 1st

12:49 p.m.

Lunch was in a dingy restaurant. A small place, dark and sparsely populated. I ordered a burger, Mark ordered a salad, and Noah got a chicken sandwich.

I don’t know why I remembered that. 

The burger tasted rubbery, the cheese glued onto the surface. The bun was stale. I chewed slowly. 

“I think we should just go home from here,” Mark said, interrupting the silence. “Why are we still driving to St Paul?”

“Don’t you remember the original reason for the trip?”

“I mean, yeah, but--”

“Just be glad,” Noah muttered. “At least your girlfriend’s still around.”

Mark’s plates clattered as he abruptly stood. “What did you say?”


“I don’t think it was nothing!” Mark said. “What gives you the right to talk about Sophie like that? I know you’re upset about Annelise-- we all are-- but you don’t get to lash out at us!”

I put a hand on Mark’s arm. “Calm down. It’s fine.”

Mark shook me off. “This road trip just isn’t working. I’m going home.”

“You don’t even have a car!”

“I’ll-- I’ll take the bus.”

I stood up and grabbed his hand. “Mark, think for a minute. Don’t leave. Don’t leave me. Please.”

“Come with me, Soph.”

I shook my head. “We don’t have enough money for a bus all the way back to Oklahoma. I’m not leaving! All we have to do is pick up Noah’s stuff and then we can go back home.”

“I’m not sitting in a car with that jerk for the time it takes to get home!” Mark shouted. Noah’s face contorted in anger, and the few others in the restaurant turned their heads our way. A server came up to Mark and said, “I’m going to have to ask you to leave, sir.”

Mark glanced at him. “That’s just fine.” With a glare at Noah, he picked up his phone and shoved it into his pocket. Turning to me, he demanded, “Are you coming?”

I looked at him. Noah. My hands. The table. The server. “No,” I finally whispered. “And I wish you weren’t going anywhere either.”

Mark’s eyes hardened. “Okay then.”

Tears blurred my eyes. “Mark--”

But he had already slammed the door shut.

“This is all your fault, Sophie. God.” Noah’s words slashed into me like a knife.

And the truth in them left the sharpest cut.


June 29th 

7:59 a.m. 

Once Annelise left, it was no fun.

“You driving?” Noah asked. 

“Sure,” I said, climbing into the driver’s seat.

“Let me know if you need a break,” Mark said, plopping down in the passenger seat. I nodded but stayed in the driver’s seat all the way from Kansas City to Wisconsin Dells. For those 8 hours, no one spoke a word. I kept my eyes focused on the yellow stripes dotting the gray asphalt, blurring into one another as the hours passed.

When Google beeped at me that we had reached our destination, as if I couldn’t see the towering orange and purple waterslides, I called, “We’re here!” 

Noah jolted awake, and Mark groggily blinked his eyes open. “What?” he mumbled.

“We’re here, babe,” I said, slinging my blue and white striped swim bag over my shoulder as I stepped out of the car. 

He slammed the car door shut a moment later, Noah right behind him. “Should I get Annelise’s stuff?”

Noah’s face contorted into a grimace. “Oh my gosh, I’m sorry,” Mark said. “I forgot.”

But Noah was already storming off towards the waterpark gates.

“It’s okay,” I whispered, lacing my hand through his. “Just try to remember next time. He’s still taking it pretty hard.”

Guilt twisted in my gut.

“I will,” Mark said, squeezing my hand. “I really am sorry. I know it’s hard for you too.”

“Yeah, but we’re here to have fun. Let’s ride some waterslides!” My smile was forced, and so was Mark’s, but we let ourselves have at least a little bit of fun over the next couple of hours. 

Water splashed onto my two-piece swimsuit over and over as we rushed down waterslide after waterslide.

The rushing feeling in my stomach couldn’t cover my nagging regret. 


June 28th

10:23 p.m.

“What’s up, man,” Mark said as Noah approached the car. 

“Annelise and I broke up.” Noah didn’t look at us, just clicked his keys and pulled the car door open.

First what happened between her and me, and now Noah and her broke up? No way. “She must be really upset.”

“Yeah,” Noah said. “She said you yelled at her about how she was always ghosting you for some guy. She said she didn’t want to do that anymore. So we aren’t together.”

I gasped. “She-- I-- I never meant to--”

“Well, you did.” 


June 28th

9:56 p.m.

“Listen, just because you wanted some one-on-one time with Mark, that doesn’t mean you can just forget about me,” Annelise said, cornering me in the kitchen after Mark and I came back to her cousin Serena’s house. 

Party music thumped against the walls as she spoke.

“I wasn’t forgetting about you. Annelise! It’s just so loud in here. Mark and I needed a break. I think you’re taking this as an insult, but really, I just needed some quiet.”

“Sure. Then next time I ask to hang out, you and Mark are busy. I’m done with this. I swear this road trip is going to end just the way I thought it would. Maybe I’ll just stay with Serena.”

“What? Ann, that’s not--”

“You and Mark and Noah can go. I’ll see you back in Oklahoma.” Annelise looked down and walked toward the door.

“Fine!” I screamed after her. “That’s just fine! You were never much of a friend anyway. All your crazy schemes, leaving me every time you see a new guy while judging me for hanging out with Mark. I’ll see you back in Oklahoma, I guess!”

Annelise turned back, her mouth hanging open. She inhaled sharply. “Okay then.”

My words sunk in, and I gasped. “I didn’t mean -- I’m so sorry --”

But she had already stormed away.


June 28th

8:30 p.m.

The last time we were all together was the disastrous party. 

Annelise had convinced us to throw a party at her cousin Serena’s house in Kansas City. Before the fight, I had shoved through the mass of dancing bodies, searching for Annelise’s pink shirt and long curls. I wondered why on earth I had agreed to this.

I finally found her sitting on the couch, Noah’s arm around her shoulders. He leaned down to move his soda can when Annelise lifted her legs up to the coffee table. 

“Annelise!” I said over the roar of the party. She looked up and caught my eyes. “Mark and I are gonna leave.”

“What? Why?” Hurt flashed across her face. 

“It’s getting kinda crazy. We’re going to go downtown and just walk around for a little bit. You can come if you want.”

“No, I don’t think so,” Annelise said. “I’m gonna stay here with Noah.”

“Okay then.” I adjusted my purse and went to meet Mark at the front door.

Downtown was really pretty, the sun glinting gold over the skyscrapers. Mark and I walked around, chatting a bit.

“I feel like Annelise is mad at us for leaving,” I said. 

“Maybe,” Mark said. “I didn’t see her.”

“Or upset. Mark, do you remember how we met?” I asked, suddenly stopping.

“Yeah. It was at some party sophomore year,” he answered. “Why?’

“That was Annelise’s party,” I said. “She wanted me to meet this ‘super hot guy’. I said ‘why not', and here we are. She was the one who caused us to become an us.”

“I never knew that,” Mark said.

“And I caused her and Noah to become a couple. A few months later, I introduced her to him, and now here they are.” 

“That’s cool,” Mark said, and I could sense the but coming, “But why--”

“She always worried that dating would get in the way of our friendship, but the thing is, she ditched me and just hung out with Noah when they got together. She’s better now about that, but she can’t blame me for wanting a break.”

Mark didn’t say anything, but I felt his understanding. We stopped at the view of a grassy area, sitting in contented silence for a few moments. 


June 25th

7:22 a.m. 

I tossed my pink suitcase into the trunk, the last one, and banged the door down.

“Careful,” Noah said. “I saved up--”

“Two years to buy this car,” I finished. “We know. Are you driving first?”

“Sure,” he said. I nodded and climbed into the back with Annelise.

“Soph, do you have a bad feeling about this?” she whispered to me as Noah plugged his phone into a charger. 

“No. I’m excited!” I said. “It’ll be fun.”

“Okay,” Annelise said, with a hint of hesitancy, but mostly reassured. So we sped away on our latest adventure. 

I rested my head on the windowsill. Cows and cornfields, cows and cornfields.

“I hope we get some better scenery,” I commented.

The group chimed in their thoughts, but Annelise’s words rang through my head.

Do you have a bad feeling about this?

June 25, 2021 00:36

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