Zero to Car Crash
July 13, 2006
“This one’s a spitfire,” Jeanae remarked hollowly gesturing at Lindsey, as the group waited on the sidewalk. Numb to the very fact that she and Andy had any company as the waited for the limo to return, Lindsey never acknowledged the comment. Everyone else chuckled uncomfortably, because there was already something distant in Lindsey’s gaze. It was the same mix of spontaneity, and reckless abandon that had made them all hesitant around her to begin with. She hardly seemed normal anymore.
And though she stood quiet, Lindsey’s was screaming for help with every cell she felt she could control. She wasn’t naïve enough to believe that the others hadn’t noticed; that alone caused her to pull Andy’s jacket tighter around her frame. And only once they were alone in the room they were sharing at Pete’s, did she address any of the night’s previous events.
“Your eye.” She said in a voice just below a whisper. Andy pretended her timid approach didn’t frighten him. When she was loud, when she was screaming, he could easily pinpoint the problem. But when she used this tiny voice he couldn’t tell vulnerability from psychotic break (and they were equally likely to occur). Nevertheless, he drew close to her, placed a hand on each of her hips, and leaned his forehead down onto hers.
“You’re fine.” She corrected just as weakly. His gaze was making her nervous, just as it always had. Before Andy, she had been untouchable, unbreakable, and invincible. Now she couldn’t distinguish her trembling from fear or an old familiar guise. And for that she was thankful (it would be easier to be convincing if she wasn’t even sure of her own honesty).
Lindsey had devised her plan the second she recognized Brandon. He was the physical representation of everything she had grown to hate, the reason she had become a vagabond. As she drew Andy into a passionate kiss, she felt just one pang of guilt. After that she blamed him; he should have known better than to trust a girl like her. For undressing him, falling into the sheets with him was as premeditated as a murder.
And as he drifted to sleep a thin layer of sweat covering both of their nude figures, the sun rose outside the bedroom’s window. She traces circles over the color that illuminated his skin. She had never viewed his tattoos at art before. She admired their beauty as a work of art and contemplated if she had been broken, tamed, domesticated too much to continue with her plan.
Heavy footsteps dragged in the hallway outside the bedroom and she waited until they faded into a slam of the door at the end of the hall. Pete had just gone to sleep, the next few hours would be the only in which the house was completely still. It was also the only window of opportunity she would have to do what she should have done all along: leave.
The floorboards were brutally cold beneath her feet and they squeaked with tattles as she moved about the room collecting her clothes, her shoes, the guitar that Andy had recently given to her, and the burlap wallet that sat on the nightstand. She made careful work of removing the Illinois driver’s license from behind the plastic film and placing it back besides Andy’s glasses. She was only collecting for the collateral damage; it was the tradition she had started with Duke Callahan, a trucker from Texas. In return for sex she took what she needed, what she was able, Lindsey had always considered this a fair trade. She clenched her eyes shut and pursed her lips, it didn’t seem fair to Andy, who looked so peaceful in his sleep.
Between the cash and the credit cards that were tucked into the pocket of her hoodie, she would have more than enough to go back in time. And with the simple exchange of words that had taken place in an intimate moment, Lindsey saw time travel as the only solution. After all, she had been the first to breath, “I love you” three words she had never spoken before. Andy’s “I love you too,” was equivalent to game over. On the way out the door, she emptied Pete’s wallet just for good measure.
From a yellow taxi cab, to a Chicago bound plane, it was just after 2 pm when Lindsey unlocked the door to Patrick and Andy’s apartment. In a flustered hurry, she collected the items that seemed of interest at the moment, almost leaving behind the guitar that had once belonged to Brandon. She sat down at the kitchen table to compose a note. The pen never scratched the paper’s surface though; there was no use in leaving behind unnecessary evidence.
In California, Andy awoke unsurprised that her side of the bed had grown cold. He had always known she would leave one day. And when his three band mates started the day without even a mention of her disappearance, he succumbed to the fact that there was no sympathy to be had and though a pang in his heart told him it had been rebroken, he tracked drums on three songs for their new CD that day. The lyrics “I’m a stitch away from making it, and a scar away from falling apart” would resounded with him for days.
The trouble was Lindsey Hawk blew into Chicago just as winter blew out. She was a runaway, a drifter. She did not know the meaning of settling down and she did not have a family. And that's the way it was supposed to be. Their lapse in judgment had resulted in a tangled mess of emotions they had never been meant to feel. Andy had been but a complication; a hang up Lindsey couldn’t afford. After all, there was never a skyline that seemed majestic when viewed from the hood of her car.
And from the base of the apartment building that had become her first home, Lindsey looked up at Chicago. She embraced it in a deep breath she filled with smoke and the sun beat down branding her with words she’d never admit to calling herself. And that was the first time in months she felt free, she felt guarded. That was the moment that the Lindsey Hawk she had become slipped to the lonely corners of her mind.
With her old beat up car in reverse, she hastily pressed the gas pedal. Once a loud crunching had echoed down that Wednesday street she switched into drive and left the fractured pieces of two guitars in her wake. She wouldn’t be singing in any more coffee shops, she wouldn’t be sharing any beds. As the last Chicago sign faded in her rearview mirror she wanted to believe that this was familiar, that this as routine, but everything about her had changed (not that she’d ever admit it).
She drove until her eye were heavy, she drove in a direction that wasn’t important, she drank and then drove until she was sober again, she drove until she crashed. With a gulp, she surveyed her surroundings. Mountains meant she had driven south; the country song whining from her busted radio assured her she was in Tennessee. While small rivulets of blood dripped down her face, she chose to ignore whichever sharp pain had been their source. She stumbled from the car and fell to her knees in a ditch. And she laughed, a hearty, laugh.
In the second after she braced herself against the tree with which her car had collided a twig snap under her foot. Startled, much like a white tailed deer, she rushed into the grove of trees and ran until she could no longer hear the roar of the highway. She ran until she no longer heard the sirens that had surely by now arrived at the collision scene. She ran, not because she was being chased, and certainly not because she had somewhere to go. She ran to feel alive, for a reason to cry. She ran because it didn’t make anything better. She ran because there was nothing else for a girl like her to do.
And while no one wanted to hear a about murder and molestation, rape, abuse, or death, that is all I’ve ever had to offer you. If you were expecting a story where the underdog comes through in the end, everyone falls in love, and everything ends with a happily ever after, I fear to say you have spent too long walking the wrong avenue, for this was the last night Lindsey spent full of pointless wandering. It was that night when the art of surviving became too much for her to bear. And that my friends, is the story of Lindsey Hawk: a runaway who never lived in all of her 20 years.