Bethany walked out onto the street. Their new companions stared at her with stolid faces. Her eyes burnt of red anguish from her slightly forgotten tension. She weakly pushed her body forward as she came closer to the cars where everyone stood watching her make her pathetic attempt to continue living a life she had no interest in moving forward with.
“Peter, drive the Camry around,” Chase said, “It looks like we’re leaving.”
Peter nodded his head. He pulled his keys out of his pocket and squeezed behind the van and the Camaro. It wasn’t long until Colin came out of the condominium complex looking nothing like his sister. A bright expression dawned on his face as if he effortlessly just moved a boulder with his pinky. He smiled as if everything in the world was perfect and peaceful.
“Okay,” Colin said, “I guess we’re good to go then.”
“Well, you sure did take awhile,” said Chase. A distinct tone of curiosity wrapped around his words.
“Oh, we just had to talk about a few things over there. We’re okay now.”
Chase nodded his head in an unpersuasive way, turned to glance at Bethany and her whithered appeal, and wiped the ends of his mouth. “. . . I bet”
A tan colored Toyota Camry arrived in front of them with Peter in the driver’s seat, the backseat filled from window to window. Colin was literally avoiding having to tell Bethany that she would be riding with Peter and not him. He didn’t know whether or not it would break her, shattering that last string of tolerance she had for all the changes that were happening.
“Beth,” Colin said as quiet and controlled as he could, “You’re riding with Peter. I have to ride with Jessica.”
Bethany looked up at Colin. Her burnt out green eyes emoted defeat. “Whatever,” she said, not in the mood to fight anymore.
Colin bounced his head up and down, smiling. “Good,” he said relieved. “I guess that’s settled.”
As Bethany walked passed Colin, he followed her with his eyes. She went around the front of the car and knocked on the passenger window. Peter looked up and unlocked the door for her. She opened it, crawled into her seat, and then slammed her door. She didn’t greet Peter or introduce herself. She just crossed her arms in a defensive manner, and sank her head forward.
Peter looked at her suspiciously, and then he turned to stare at Colin through the front windshield of the car. Colin responded by shrugging his shoulders in an indulgent manner.
Colin turned around to see Jessica leaning on the side of the Camaro she just hot wired. Her eyes wandered in quiet. Colin wondered if he should say something.
“We just had a lot to talk about,” Colin said, trying to clear the air.
Jessica exaggerated a grin and then shook her head, “It’s none of my business,” she replied. “Let’s go!”
“Yeah, let’s do that.”
The inside of Peter’s car smelled of pine air fresheners and strawberries. He kept two of each on the dashboard. Also on the dashboard was a small metal stick figure with a tan colored grass skirt. If they pressed on it, it would do a quick hula dance. Other than the large military sacks in the back, the inside of the Camry was excessively clean. No spots, no left over food crumbs, no smell of oil, mold, or any thing anyone would find in any car that had gotten old and rotten over time.
It was almost noon, the sun must’ve almost been lifted into it’s peak in the sky. Chase led both cars, Jessica and Colin in the middle, Peter and Bethany in the behind. Peter kept his eyes in front of him, from time to time he would spare a glance back at Bethany, but she continued to stay the sam; her arms crossed, her face unbelievable still, but her eyes zoned out as if her soul floated off in some fantasy dream land.
“Are you hungry?” Peter asked.
“No,” Bethany replied monotonously.
“Well, when I get cranky I usually get hungry.”
Nothing. Not even a small flinch from Bethany. Even with Peter trying to harmlessly get a rouse out of her, spark anything to get her to show some sign of life, she still would not move. She continued to sit in a statuesque manner. Her eyes slightly stuck below the glove compartment.
“Well, when it gets really quiet I get nervous, and when I’m nervous I have fat person issues, and I just feel the need to eat something.” He reached over to the glove compartment in front of Bethany. She sank back into her seat slightly moving her legs closer to each other.
Peter stopped with his hand in midair as he noticed the small insignificant movement in Bethany’s legs. He exhaled and continued to reach over to the glove compartment. He clicked it open, and let the glove compartment fall out carelessly. Bethany moved her legs and adjusted herself to the side. Peter caught his laughter in his mouth.
The glove compartment was filled with packets of dry fruit and jerky. Bethany saw the labels on the several plastic packets, but looked away stubbornly. She stared out at the window watching the road as they entered a freeway. Under the freeway she could see the lower level road that crossed below them. Several cars were left abandoned all over the freeway. A large trucker ran perpendicular to the road, closing off several lanes from being able to move forward. It looked as if everyone just ran out of their cars and disappeared.
Bethany could hear Peter chewing loudly as he exaggerated the movements in his mouth. She knew he was exaggerating by the way he opened up his jaw widely and bit down on his food. He also clicked his gums, he grinded his teeth, and made obscure sounds with his tongue. She didn’t know whether or not he was just being a moron, or just trying that hard to get her to talk. Peter turned to face her, catching her as she stared at his open mouth.
“I bet your hungry now,” he said, wiping the front of his teeth with his tongue in an impolite manner and swallowing uneasily.
“I’m not hungry.”
“Well then,” Peter placed the packet of jerky on top of the dashboard in front of Bethany, “I’m just going to leave this here, and whenever you feel like telling me your lifestory, you could grab it.”
Bethany stared at the way Peter smiled, as if nothing bad could ever happen to them. It reminded her of Michael. The way his mouth curved slightly on the left side, the wrinkles that bent under his eyes when he pushed his cheeks up. Then the stiff cold texture of the bathroom where she stood in front of Michael crept over her body. She could feel Michael’s face peacefully floating under water with the torn expression leaving him lifeless.
“How about it?” Peter said, silently waking her up from her reverie with almost nurturing eyes.
Bethany could feel the perpetual tension of fear and sadness reaching into her. She could feel the emptiness in her stomach and the fragility of her bones. She stared back at Peter, his open grin and inviting facial expression.
“. . . I just really don’t want to talk right now.”
Peter froze for second. His breaths quietly traveled through his broken pursed lips. He shook his head and looked away from her. She could hear him exhale as he readjusted his seat.
Again, the tense silence unraveled.