Girl in Your Car
A hitchhiker is always lucky. You slow down because the girl by the side of the road looks lost and lonely. Looks, in other words, like you. One of you is in a car and one of you is in the rain. Then everything changes. The rain is outside, and the hitchhiker inside, fiddling with the radio dial, summoning music from static. She’s kicked off her sneakers and hiked up her skirt, dirty soles resting on the dash. Smell of pot and rain and chocolate, braids tied tight with rubber bands.
You ask her name and she looks away, out the window, at the sun beginning to show across the fields, which go on forever.
You say your name is Chris.
She says her name is Chris, too. Funny. She asks how far you’re willing to go.
You’ve never driven this road before. Something happened in town, the town you’ve always lived in, and you took this car, which isn’t yours. There’s an old ghost story kids used to tell, about a girl in white by the side of the road. On her way to a dance, or wedding, or both. How she got in a car, or carriage, and vanished.
Chris might be in white; it’s hard to tell, her skirt’s so dirty and the mud’s so high. You talk with your hands, tracks in the field. The leaves were green and now they’re pale.
A grocery store floats up to your windshield and stops. It’s shaped like a farm: fake silo, fake cow. Chris smiles, gap in her teeth, something shifts in her story.
You buy two coffees, one with cream. When you get back to your car the driver’s seat is littered with pink rubber bands, the kind that used to hold the news together. The silo does not produce the coffee of your dreams.
Sipping coffee, you go over your collection. For years, you’ve saved articles of “kids” who came home after long periods of time: five months, nine months, six years, 8 years, 12 years, 23½ years. You might become one of those “kids” someday and so might the other runaways, the missing hitchhikers. If only you could remember who I am, who you are, and who the girl in your car once was.
In your dreams, you drive her back home, to take her back where she belongs. Along the way, you remember who you are, even though you’ll never remember who I am. That would be a mistake. Your mind must protect you from me.
Who did I used to be? Where did I come from? What makes me do the things I do?
I’m a repressed memory. Your mind can’t handle knowing me.
The girl in your car is the answer to a question you forgot to ask.
The question disappears with the answer when she leaves you on the road to nowhere.