Pounding droplets beat on the car’s roof, ringing in the silence. Her almond brown eyes traced rain streaking on the glass. In the backseat, she was almost comfortable, though a bit too tall to fit. So, she lay sideways, humming faintly. She loved humming- as if to fill a void where people should’ve been. The girl was solitary; alone but not lonely.
Crashing thunder swayed the car, jostling her from her tranquil moment. She nestled further under the thin blankets. Rain brought memories, and she’d vowed to forget. She had everything back then. Once more she attempted melting into slumber’s sweet arms, achieving success.
The girl gradually woke, experiencing the hardened chill of an early morning. She reached for her cerulean pack and extracted a neatly folded fleece sweater. Tenderly, she slipped the warm yellow cloth over her head. Exiting the car, a light finger of wind caressed her face. A watery sun, rising steadily, flickered between packed grey clouds loaded with condensation. A bold rooster cackled from far away and the echo roared around the small canyon.
She savored the icy air before retrieving her bag from the car and shouldering it, setting off on foot. Her sneakers were travel worn, and dry leaves crunched beneath them. She trekked over a hill, discovering a rushing river with wildlife sitting by it- drinking and playing. She entered the clearing, so squirrels and deer turned their heads to contemplate the newcomer. Then they returned to their merrymaking. Perhaps the girl fit in more around animals than with other humans.
She sat cross-legged on grass by the frothing liquid and extracted her turquoise thermos. The bottle was filled, scooping through the water, then she grabbed a bag of crackers for her breakfast. She gathered her belongings and headed back to the car. There was still a long way to go before reaching New York.
Back in the vehicle, she began, again, to drive. She was a wanderer, learning the way of life in nature- it was essential as she hoped not to perish. She couldn’t forget why…
Flashes of blue, crash… cracked doors and piercing shrieks. Anguish followed by disappointment. Even disgust. It was so much easier to forget, to bury her essence so deep down she forgot she had a soul. The lingering touch of hurt clutching at her in the early hours of the morning and the suffocating blanket she hid behind coupled and caused her collapse.
Her father encouraged the belief he could fix his mess. That he could get the money back and rebuild prosperity. Repeating days of dwindling money and horrible luck meant drinking nightly. Ultimately, the asset he bought exceeded her mother’s limits. A wrapped gun to reduce their debt by threatening the bank. She had everything before then.
After three hours of driving, she stopped, gauging her surroundings. She parked in a willow trees’ shade and gingerly stepped into a forest. Shadows of towering trees loomed above as the skyline began to darken and the inky clouds opened. The rain poured down like gunshots in battle all around her, but she stood unmoving, feeling the water bounce on her head and mark her clothes. As her long auburn hair dampened, the full memories shot back to her- and she let them for the first time in weeks.
She was in the family mansion, tapping on her iPhone with earbuds on to obscure her parents arguing- a normal ritual. The idea failed; furious voices still she couldn’t block carried to her ears.
“You revolt me. You fail to find an occupation, and you squander all our remaining savings on alcohol!! If that’s not enough- I found, you’re talking to some girl!! What say you, James?!!?” Her mother’s signature glare sharpened her voice. Her father’s weary murmur was veiled retaliation, “I try to find a job, but nobody hires me. I found ways to relieve my stress.” Throughout the entire argument, he was serene. As if what he did amounted to nothing, having no consequences. Her mother was beside herself; the slammed door could be heard from 100 miles away. Late that night she walked into her parent’s room and discovered the note and spilt pills littering the carpet. Her mother, broken on the floor, unmoving. Not breathing. She ran.
The house’s color was perfect. A dark blue for a depressing night, and nights after. But she overcame it; her mother always loved New York, albeit only visiting once. She needed to pay her last respects. Tears, unbeknownst to her, slid down her face, racing rain flooding the ground. The missing intensified, but when she hiccupped herself to silence the weight on her shoulders had lifted. She’d freed herself from the whispering demon inside.
Her name was Carly.