I pushed my glasses up my nose and stared out the window. My mom had the music blasting, seeming to think playing my favorite music at a deafening volume will extinguish some of the anger and betrayal I felt. Our bags were backed and stuffed into the back of the mini-van. The rest of our belongings, the large stuff we couldn’t fit into the van, were stuffed into the U-Haul, which trailed us.
I flipped open my eighty year cellphone and scanned the screen for a message from Dillon, my ex-boyfriend, thanks to my mom. There was a text from Missy, my long time best-friend. I ignored it and continued my gloomy stare into the Arizona desert. My mom sang along to Nickle Back, tapping her bony hands on the stirring wheel. I effortlessly tuned her out and thought about life back in California.
My mom and dad recently got a divorce. Seeing as I was the youngest, and the only child in the house, they had a custody battle over me. For my dad, it was long a grueling, because he knew my mom would take me back to Maine. My mom, however, had confidence that she would win the battle and breezed through the house during the long months. She put my dad through hell, and she smiled about it. She tried to make me like her, but when it was my turn to get on the stand, I was asked who I wanted to be with, I obviously said my dad. I guess what I wanted didn’t mean anything to the judge.
My mom turned the radio down. “Alice, don’t sulk. You’ll love Maine! Grandma and Grandpa live right by the Atlantic, so you can go swimming, and even cliff diving into the ocean! Your uncle Pat and I use to do all the time with our friends. We would scare Grandma every time.” She sighed happily. “You’ll love it, I just know you will.”
I ignored her, thinking, ‘Yea, like I was going to love it when we went there for a family vacation four years ago?’ I didn’t voice this, but I continued to think about California. The rest of the day was meet with steamy silence. The car’s Air Conditioner did its job enough that the heat wasn’t uncomfortable, but the trip through country was not how I wanted to spend my sixteenth birthday. At the right we were going, we’d be in New York by time I turned sixteen, and my mom said we were driving straight through it!
I checked my phone once again. Dillon still hadn’t texted me, but Missy had. She said she already missed me, so I shot her a quick text, saying the same thing, to her. I put my head-phones in, reclined the seat and turned up my own music. My mom pursed her lips, hearing the beat of Bruno. I propped my feet on the dash, just to irritate her. She didn’t say anything as I closed my eyes and stopped my dirty sneakers against the wind shield.
What could she say? I’m sorry for ripping you away from your friends and family here in California? I’m sorry you’re going to lose you golden skin and toned body? I’m sorry for taking everybody away from you just when you reached the height of adolescent? Her apologies would mean nothing to me, and I would never forgive her for taking me across the country, in a car with crappy air conditioning. I kicked the dash out of anger.
My mom ripped the ear buds out. “Excuse me young lady! I know you’re upset but you don’t need to hit my car.”
“It’s a ’86 Chrysler mini-van. It’s far from a car.” I said angrily.
“She speaks!” My said gasped, covering her mouth with her hand and snickering. She found her joke amusing. I put the ear bud back in and turned my back on her. It was against silence as the sun fell. I tapped my shoes against the win shield still, Kenny pumping out. I tapped a little softer until eventually I passed out.
I awoke to my phone vibrating. Dillon was calling. “Hello?” I said groggily. I didn’t have time to look at the clock before I answered so I looked at the dash board clock. It was 3 am. “What do you want?” I asked.
His speak was slurred. “I’m going to miss you, Alice. I loved you. Why did you have to leave?” I rubbed at my temples.
“I’ve explained this, Dillon, my mom and dad had a custody battle and my mom won. She wants to move back to Maine, and I’m powerless to stop her. I would have stayed if I could have!” Dillon was seventeen, going on eighteen. He chuckled into my ear, his drunken word fumbling over each other.
“Yea, yea, I heard you. I’ll come steal you from Maine.”
“Goodnight, Dillon. Lay off the booze.” I clicked my phone shut and pulled my ear bids out. My mom was still driving but I could see she was getting tired. I felt bad for her. She had to drive all night because I wasn’t going to offer any help.
I began to drift off to sleep again when suddenly the car jerked and I hit the seatbelt hard. “Mom!” I screamed. The car horn was going as my mom lay against it. “Mom!” I grabbed her shoulder and shook her. “Wake up. You smashed over the railing and into a tree.” I shook her harder and her head lolled over. Blood was gushing out of her forehead. “Oh my God! MOM!” My voice went shrilled and I ripped off my seatbelt. I opened my door but there was no ground. That’s when I realized the car was dangling over a bridge, not smashed into a tree. I drew my legs back in and shut the door.
The car didn’t rock. It didn’t squeak. It just stayed perched. Tears slipped out of my eyes. Where was the U-Haul? I craned my neck, fearing that the slightest movement would upset the car and we would die. My mom was still breathing but I didn’t see the truck. The tears turned into full blown sobs and my phone went off again.
My phone! I’ll call 9-1-1! I grabbed my phone and opened it. “Dillon! I have to call-“
“You have to say on the phone with me, Alice. Don’t hang up.” He had kept drinking in the half an hour it took for me to drift.
“No, no, Dillon you don’t understand. My mom passed out at the wheel and now the car is dangling over the edge of the freeway. I have to go!” I clicked the little red phone and dialed 9-1-1.
It rang. And rang. And rang. I hung up, and tried again. The car lurched forward. Dillon called again. I flipped my phone to my ear. “Dillon, help me please!” I began to get hysterical.
When Dillon spoke, he wasn’t drunk. He sounded scared. “Alice, I told you have to stay on the line with me. If you don’t, your car will fall into the river and you’ll die.”
“H-how do you know where I am? How do you know what happened?” I asked, my heart rate shooting up. I was still crying. I looked at my mom. Her pretty blond hair was soaked in blood, her blue blouse, slowly becoming red. I cried harder. “My mom is hurt. Dillon, we need help and my phone wont call 9-1-1.” I wiped my tears away and the car rocked. A small screamed crawled out of my throat. I was going to die.
Dillon didn’t answer. My phone had died. I looked again for the U-Haul, and still nothing. No cars, no noise. The car again rocked, sliding against the metal of the railing. The sound was equivalent to a small child screaming after shutting their hands in the door.
I tried to wake my mom again. “Mom.” Shake. “Mom!” Shake, shake. She didn’t respond. Her body just flopped, lifeless. That’s when I realized she wasn’t breathing. I screamed, and screamed. Nobody came to our rescue.
I opened my door again and looed at the river below. Rocks jutted out of the surface, and I knew I was going to die unless somebody came by. I had no idea what time it was, but I couldn’t see the horizon lighting up, so I knew it was awhile until day break. Awhile until anybody found us.
I pushed the door open on my mom’s side. I kissed the cleanest spot on her forehead. “I love you, Mom and I’m sorry I never got to say it. I’m sorry I was mad at you for taking me to Maine, and I’m sorry for this.” I unbuckled her and pushed her lifeless body out of the car. I figured without the extra weight, the car would stay right where it was. As long I was remained still and wake, that is.
I settled back into my seat, leaving the doors open. The car stayed still for a few minutes –I used my heart beat to tell how long it was- but the car swayed and fell off the highway.
I screamed and sat up. Light trickled through my curtains. My mom bounced into my bedroom and handed me a plate of hot pancakes.
This was the morning of the crash. “Guess what, Alice! We’re going to live in Maine!”