It’s half-past ten and your dad’s silver BMW – ten years old, not worth more than three thousand bucks – pulls into the parking lot of the 7-Eleven a few blocks away from your house. You are sitting in the passenger seat while your dad drives and the car is quiet except for the sound of wheels turning against the pavement and a muffled R.E.M. song that you used to know. You pull past the gas pumps towards the fluorescent store front, your pulse involuntarily rising at this small act of defiance against your all-organic mother. Your dad turns off the car and the music comes to an abrupt conclusion. You had heard silence described as heavy before, but perhaps you previously never quite understood the metaphor.
You pass a single Snickers bar and a can of Arizona Mucho Mango Iced Tea to the gangly dropout perched behind the counter, and, seeing your total light up in green LED, pass him a five dollar bill. He hands you eighty-four cents and a plastic bag. You nod in his general direction as you push open the glass door and step in to the night air.
All your life, you have opened car doors with too much force, yanking on the handle and tripping over your own feet, and tonight is no exception. Your dad is still sitting in the drivers’ seat with the engine stalled, his eyes closed and 80s new-wave once again leaking through the speakers. He doesn’t open his eyes when you sit down on the fake leather seat and pull the door shut behind you, so you fasten your seatbelt and unwrap your candy bar. As you are chewing the first bite and rummaging through the plastic sack in search of your iced tea, it occurs to you that the moment has a particular cadence about it. You think that you would like to do this again, but even as you are still sitting in it, the details of the experience have begun to slip through the cracks in your mind. Then your dad opens his eyes as if waking from a dream and smiles at you while he shifts the car into reverse. The silence persists in the air, but moments later it has faded into the background.
- maye hadley