She stood at the bus stop in her worn canvas shoes while the wind blew the rain into the small shelter, which wasn’t much more than graffiti and a bench. She shivered, arms crossed tight across her chest, hands tucked into the sleeves of her hoodie. It was dark. The campus she had abandoned lit up the night behind her but she refused to turn and look back at it.
She supposed she was going home. Although she wasn’t exactly sure where this bus would take her first. Didn’t matter.
She shifted from foot to foot, watching as the vehicles whizzed past, splashing water up on to the sidewalk. Impatient. A four door sedan pulled up alongside the bus stop and she paid it no mind.
“Ariana?” a voice floated through the open passenger window.
She squinted into the dark, recognizing vaguely the cadence of the voice.
“Yeah.” A light shuddered on inside the car and she could see his face cast in shadow. He was in the class ahead of her but they ran in the same circles. “What are you doing out here?”
She sighed and looked away. “Getting the hell out of here.”
Ariana flicked her gaze back to him. “Where are you going?”
He shrugged. “Nowhere.”
After a long pause she asked, “Can I come?”
She put her hood over her dark hair and ran the short distance to the car, clambered in wet and put her backpack on the floor between her feet. It was full of clothes and toiletries and a single stuffed bear. Most of her earthly items remained behind in her dorm room. She buckled her seat belt as Eric turned off the dome light and put the car in drive. They were silent as he headed for the highway and went south. Away, away.
“So is this about Marcus?”
She whipped her head around to stare at him but he kept his eyes on the road. The wipers squeaked against the windshield rhythmically. She swallowed her heart back down into the space behind her ribs and thumped back against her seat.
“Sorry. If you don’t want to talk about it—“
“I’m tired of these scars that love makes.” Ariana stared out her window. The rain drops on the glass mirrored the tears at the corners of her eyes.
They were silent again.
“Is this about your mother?” she asked him, watching as his knuckles went white on the steering wheel.
“I’m so sick of people dying,” Eric said after a while.
An hour passed by when they pulled into a truck stop for gas. Night had turned into early morning but it was still dark. The rain was a mist now.
“Hey.” Ariana put her hand on Eric’s arm. He turned his brown eyes to hers. She leaned across the center console and kissed him. Gentle. He tasted like hazelnut coffee. Like desperation. When she pulled away he stared at her.
“Running away won’t get us anywhere, you know,” he said.
“You’re wrong. Running gets us somewhere, anywhere other than where we were.”
Originally published at Tipsy Lit under Jessica Sita.