Jake was happy. It was the first day of school of his freshman year. He hadn’t been happy much in the past couple of years, but his mom assured him it went with the age. He had fought an unfamiliar moodiness all through his fifteenth year.
But today he had every reason to be happy. He had passed his driving test and to his surprise is father was allowing him to drive the Miata to school. As he settled down in the seat, his father leaned against the door and said, “Now be careful, don’t let anything distract you.”
He felt great as he headed out the drive. It occurred to him he had plenty of time. Why go straight to school? He could stop at the convenience store and get a snack. He had skimped on breakfast, and besides a lot of students stopped there. The Miata would be a nice tool to raise his rank in the brutal battle for popularity.
As he pulled into the he wondered who he would see, and who would see him. About that time a cheerleader started out of backseat of one of the cars at the gas pump. Leg first. His eyes drifted to the right to see who owned that leg and cheerleader outfit. Amber Johnson, wow.
When his eyes looked back forward he realized he was going too fast and the front of the store was close. He screeched to a halt, and felt a shiver gripped his spine. But that turned to embarrassment when he heard giggles from behind him. Amber and two other cheerleaders were laughing.
He slowly lowered his head to rest on the steering wheel. He thought of what it would have been like to tell his father he had crashed before ever getting to school. The chill on his back grew for a moment, and started to subside.
Then he realized the three girls were standing beside his car staring at him. His head popped up and the shiver was replaced by heat of embarrassment as he felt himself flushing. The top and the window were down. There was nothing to hide behind.
Amber broke the silence and said playfully, “Nice car, if you crash it I might have to hurt you.” The girls giggled their way inside and Jake returned his head to the steering wheel. When he felt his normal color return, he went in.
He grabbed a roll of donuts and chocolate milk, navigating the aisles so as to avoid contact with other students. He was back out of the store before anyone else had noticed him. He sat in the car and enjoyed his food. He wasn’t about to eat while driving. He laid back his head and stared at the blue sky while he chewed.
He felt his car jostle and he looked up to find Amber climbing into the passenger seat. With great, but ungraceful effort he was able to avoid spraying chocolate milk and donuts all over the inside of the car. “Perhaps I had better ride with you to make sure you don’t do anything stupid.”
“uhm, okay. One sec.” He finished the last donut and swallow of milk and threw them into the trash can outside the store. But as he turned around he stopped cold in his tracks. Amber had jumped over to the driver’s seat. His instructions were to not let anyone ride with him, but then again with her driving, he was riding with her, not the other way round. But would he really let her drive his car?
He stood paralyzed for just moment, but when he heard the car start he found his feet, and the passenger seat. “You do have a license, don’t you?”
“Well, no. But I drive my father’s lawn tractor all the time so I am sure it will be alright.” With that she slammed it into reverse and spun the wheels slightly on the way out. Jake had to brace himself with a hand on the dashboard as the other searched for the seatbelt. When he almost had it, the wheels started spinning the other way and they launched into the street without stopping.
The car behind him braked hard and honked. But Jake ignored it, trying to get his hand on the seatbelt while being thrown around inside the car. He finally got it and looked up at Amber who was looking at him rather than the road. “Hang on, it’s distracting when you’re bouncing all over like that.”
The next second the car braked around a right turn, and then accelerated down a residential street. Jake whispered, “Please slow down.” She didn’t and the speedometer climbed past fifty. “Please?”
“Okay.” She said it coldly, but there was nothing nonchalant about the way she locked up the brakes. The car drifted a little sideways, then she dropped it back into first gear and launched into the school lot. She pulled to a stop at the closest parking place, handed him the keys and said. “You might want to talk to that guy that followed us here from the store.”
As she walked away, Jake thought, “What guy?”
He turned around to see his father pulling up behind him.