a flash fiction piece by Teresa
“Are we there yet?” His sun bitten skin pressed uncomfortably against the leather seats. He dared not rest his arms, keeping them suspended awkwardly in the air; he was fearful of making contact with the stinging heat. His feet, unable to touch the ground, dangled above the car floor.
His mother laughed. He could see her smile in the rearview mirror. “We just left less than ten minutes ago, kiddo. Be patient.”
He grumbled to himself, averting his eyes from the sun’s blinding light, and faced the shade. He focused on the passing houses: fifty six Ann Road, fifty eight Ann Road, sixty, sixty two… He finally laid his sore arms against the leather, which was much cooler than he had anticipated, and counted down the homes as he drifted further from his own. He pressed his forehead against the window and sighed. Seventy, seventy two, seventy four…
Half an hour passed. They had turned off of Ann road twenty minutes ago and were making their way through less suburban areas. He had taken off his glasses to reflect the sunshine, casting shadows of light on the car roof. Their halt at a red light caused the sun’s rays he had been playing with to be blocked by a FedEx truck. He grumbled again. “Are we there yet?”
“Hm…” She pondered the question for a moment. The light changed to green. “Nope, not yet. It must’ve felt like we were because that stop took. For. Ev. Er. You’ll have to wait a little longer, bud.” The car began to move again, bringing back the playful sun. She could see him smile in the rearview mirror before returning her eyes to the road.
An hour passed. The time read 5:15 p.m. She flipped through each radio station, half the channels discussing celebrity gossip, the other half playing rather inappropriate music. She decided that he shouldn’t hear about what goes “Down in the DM.” She pulled over, stopping the car to search the glove box.
“Are we there yet?” He took his eyes off the highway and followed her hands.
“Nuh uh. Hold on one second, kiddo. I promise this will only take a little bit.” After some shuffling through a stack of CDs, she chose Ray Charles’ self titled album. She started the car and skipped to track ten.
She laughed while clapping her hands together. “This is my favorite!”
He watched her singing along in the rearview mirror with her hands tapping on the steering wheel. She missed every beat. He laughed too.
“When I’m in trouble and I have no friend, I know she’ll go with me until the end! Ba dum dum!”
He swayed his head to the tune of jazz and the two voices. They made eye contact in the rearview mirror. “Ah, look who’s having fun now!?”
He smiled shyly, fighting through his flushed embarrassment. Their faces bathed in sunlight.
“Oh, I know! Hallelujah, I just love her so!”
The jazz music continued for hours. The sun was growing tired. Its exciting yellow rays turned orange and red. Her voice mellowed after the album started playing for the third time. Ray Charles sang softly as the boy traced the horizon with his finger against the window. Track five played.
“If you leave me, then you grieve me. What would I do without you to see me through?”
The amber glow painted his mother’s outline like an angel. He traced her too, with his finger in the air. He laid the back of his head against the car window and curled his knees up to his chest. He sketched her smile before wrapping his arms around his legs. He closed his eyes, the rhythm of the music and the uneven road eventually putting him to sleep.
The sun fell asleep too. He felt his shoulder being nudged and woke up slowly. Ray Charles’ voice was no longer playing and the presence of sunshine did not accompany him anymore. The car wasn’t moving. “You fell asleep on the turnpike. We’re here now.”
He sat up while grumbling and rubbed his eyes beneath his crooked glasses. His vision adjusted and he looked at her. “We’re here?”
Her bright eyes had turned grey from the hours she spent staring at cemented roads. She nodded.
Her smile was apologetic. His sun soaked skin felt grey too as he stepped one foot out of the car reluctantly.
He sighed. “Oh.”
Teresa is in ninth grade. She says, “I love art, but writing is the only form of art that I completely relish. I suck at drawing; anatomy is hard.”