California: a two-way street — @belleartmovement (English version)

California: a two-way street — @belleartmovement (English version)

by Alina Simu

In front and behind the highway is free of cars.  The engine is not even heard because of the loud music blasting on the radio, but he doesn’t care, he checks the rear-view mirror and catches a glimpse of his eyes caramelizing in the light of the sun, but then he sees the empty backseat, with the exception of a bouquet of roses, held together by a string. He rests his restless head on the heated leather of the steering wheel. He closes his eyes and feels how the car drives itself towards the left side of the road. He lets the sensation of falling to overwhelm him for a few seconds, until he looks up and brings the car on the right band, or at least on the one he was already on.

His hand instinctively falls on the passenger seat, where yesterday her legs, covered by a flowy dress in the colour of apples, were sitting. And she kind of smelled like autumn, even on the hottest days. He didn’t know how she made her skin smell like that, but every time he’d come home to her he was enticed by it. Her lips weren’t sweet, they tasted like freshly squeezed lemons into water, without sugar or honey.        

Mountains, dust, a few lonely trees, California offers you a straight road, somehow inspiring you that you’re heading the right way. He’s not so sure anymore. His phone is ringing and he already knows who it is. He has two options: to drive straight forward, to take the followers and to throw them in the arms of a woman who will resemble her, or to go back. He pulls the car over and waits for the phone to stop ringing. His long fingers grab from the glove compartment a half empty pack of cigarettes. He must have bought it a half a year ago, but he never got to finish it because she never liked cigarette’s smoke, the smell or the taste of it. He places the brown filter between his dry lips and remains like this because he doesn’t have a lighter.

On the radio, the station changes to a Spanish ballad. He forces the volume button and now he really doesn’t hear anything but the guitar, the diffused drums, the muted tambourine and the raspy voice of the singer. One night he held her hand on the balcony from the upstairs while dancing on this song. He was wearing a white button-up shirt because he was coming from work, his jacket was left on the chair, and his shoes were at the entrance. To be honest, he wasn’t the clumsy type, but he had become one since he met her.

Sweat gathers around his forehead and follows the trail of his straight nose until it falls on his chest. He throws the cigarette back into the pack, grabs the phone and taps on the message icon. The line appears and disappears, the box remaining empty again and again because he’s deleting every word he writes.

Should I turn around or should I leave you alone? He repeats the two options like it’s not clear what he wants to do. He throws the phone next to the bouquet of flowers, he brings the car back on the road, but on the band that goes straight home, to her.



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