by Trista Hurley-Waxali
“Hey there handsome, want a ride?”
I catch my friend wearing the signature red smock walking from the bus stop. He walks the same route each day to work, which is why I took this road with my new driver’s permit in the glovebox. I’m not yet comfortable with driving on the main street during rush hour so I stay behind the plaza on a local’s favorite shortcut. He rests his lunchbox on the backseat and leans forward to fiddle with the volume on my radio. I smile at him and catch the late afternoon sun reflecting off the hood. This moment feels like pure freedom, even if I am driving to work.
“I’m just going to park in the other lane and we won’t be late…”
I slam on my brakes in the thoroughfare. For somewhere in my wide right turn, I end inches away from a head-on collision with an on-duty police cruiser. I don’t move a muscle; I even forget to breathe.
“Ma’am you can put the car in park.”
I do it without saying a word, trying to not let the sweat on my palms loosen my grip. I muster out an apology.
“It’s fine. Next time you might want to be careful on how you drive your boyfriend around.”
He’s not my boyfriend. Is what I want to say to the officer. But as a brown girl in a predominantly white neighbourhood, that’s not what I say. I don’t have an opportunity to speak here and I don’t have the luxury of making this mistake twice. I wave to the officer as he walks back to his car.
“You’re not my boyfriend,” I finally say.
“I know, but it was nice while it lasted.”
PHOTO: “Blinding Lights” by klorom, used by permission.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I don’t normally work within prompts but this is a moment that’s been haunting me ever since that afternoon. So working within the word limit parameters I felt that I could finally put this memory to rest.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Trista Hurley-Waxali is a transplant from Toronto, Canada, now perched on barstools in West Hollywood. She has performed at Avenue 50, Stories Bookstore, and internationally at O’bheal Poetry Series in Cork, Ireland, and a TransLate Night show from Helsinki Poetry Connection. She is currently working on her novel, At This Juncture.