There is a car. There is a corpse of a car at the front entrance of our high school. From the back seat, I see Steve’s head crane and turn to get a better view as we drive past. “Bajesus. What the fuck is that?” Marcy, his girlfriend, my good friend, deftly turns the car around. There was little chance of hitting or inconveniencing another driver. It is Sunday. This is almost the middle of nowhere. Nowhere Central is a few miles down the road, at my house.
Steve scrambles out, leaning over the M.A.D.D. sign propped up against the car, scanning for more information.
“When did this go up?” I ask Marcy.
She shrugs. “I didn’t see it at practice yesterday.”
“Well, now I can’t wait for prom,” I say with studied sarcasm, unable to take my eyes off the Once-Car.
Marcy is unable to take her eyes off of Steve. He pulls up the hood of his sweatshirt from the rival school he attends and his voice is somber. “Dominus ominus…vini, vidi, vino.”
She laughs. “You’re so bad!”
Not so bad. She jumps out of the car to go to him. I start to follow, only to take my hand off the door handle when they begin to kiss hungrily next to the wreck’s trunk, which is now also its back seat.
I don’t turn my head away, but I’m not really paying attention to them. My own boyfriend is not there. He isn’t the daytime joyriding type. I will learn in a few weeks that he also isn’t the long distance relationship type.
Marcy and Steve rub noses and giggle their way into a hug. He walks her back to the driver’s seat. He is large, athletic, a protective bear. She is tiny and mighty and the world is hers. I don’t know why I am there.
Steve pulls his hood down and turns to face me. His wriggling eyebrows almost reach his buzz cut. “Don’t drink and drive, kid.”
I snort. I don’t drink yet. I’m still under the spell of my mother, the Once-Catholic, and her belief that drinking is drunk is drinking problem is loss of control is danger.
We peel out of there. Her hand on his thigh heats up the car and quickly erases me from all but primitive memory. We head to my house so they can drop me off.
They bathe in anticipation of pouring into each other like lava, and I wonder what’s on tv tonight, and we’re all lost in the future until we hear the roar of a siren behind us.
Steve pulls his hood back up over his head.
Marcy rolls down her window. “Is there a problem, officer?”
The policeman taps on his ticket pad and milks his pause. He points to the car wreck, the remains of a prom past with its twisted metal and glassless windshield and probable blood spatters and grey matter if one were to look closely enough.
“If I go back to that car, am I going to find anything wrong with it?”
And I start laughing and I start crying.