By Claire Cray
Copyright 2012 Claire Cray
The gravel roared beneath my wheels as I pulled onto the shoulder, yelling and bouncing in my seat as the steam or smoke or whatever flew up out from under the hood.
“Son of a bitch!” I howled, cutting the engine and throwing my head back against the seat. After ten hours on the road, this catastrophe was well worth a tantrum. I grabbed the wheel to try and shake it angrily, but settled for jostling myself around in the seat so hard that my shaggy brown hair whipped around my face. A few more profanities, a couple of smacks to the console, and I fell back against the seat with a huff.
I grabbed my cell phone from the passenger seat to call Dave, scowling. Oh, he was gonna get it.
“Come on, Kyle!” he’d begged. “It’ll make it. It’s not in that bad of shape.” His stupid old Honda had always been a jerky, sputtery little machine, and I’d been skeptical that it would behave for anybody but its owner of ten years. “Please!” he whined. “Nobody else can take it up for me, and I’m gonna need it for when I start work in like a week, and you wanted to come to Portland anyway, and you can totally make it in a day if you don’t wanna stop in a hotel, but I’ll pay for one anyway if you want, and I’ll pay for gas and everything, and you’ll be my favorite ex-boyfriend forever…”
I stabbed my finger at the phone to bring up his name from my contacts. I’d only agreed in the end because he’d been in such a tough spot for so long, and I wanted to be supportive. Times were hard for creative professional twenty-somethings, after all, and we had to stick together. Dave had been out of work for months, and the design job he’d landed in Portland that month was such a miracle he didn’t think twice about relocating from San Francisco on a moment’s notice. In just a few days he’d found a room to rent, loaded up a moving van with all the stuff he’d been keeping in his mom’s garage, and raced up Highway 101 for a fresh start.