That’s how sure he is of how invincible we are — or maybe it’s just in my head.
Art by Grace Mazzucchi
Wind blows through my hair, and I laugh out loud throwing my hands in the air. The wind blows stronger and stronger until it’s a roar in my ears. Payson sits beside me in the driver’s seat, his foot pushing harder on the gas pedal with each passing second. I know we’re being reckless, that at any minute a cop car could pull up beside us, but we don’t care. We’re free in this moment and that’s all that matters.
“I don’t want this to end!” screaming to be heard over the wind. “Forget school, forget life, forget everything,” Payson says. He looks at me out of the corner of his eyes sending a chill down my spine.
I scream into the wind letting myself go. Letting all my fears, doubts, and anxiety about the future go in that moment. Tomorrow we’d go our separate ways, Payson and I. Him to the west coast and me to the east. We might never see each other again. I close my eyes to let that go as well. To forget everything but this moment here between us right now.
Payson reaches over and takes my hand. He slows the car as he squeezes my hand harder. I squeeze my eyes tighter shut willing the tears not to come. This is a happy moment. I won’t let this be anything but a happy moment.
We continue to drive in silence until we reach the old diner set on the side of the highway. The paint on the sign out front is chipping off, but the faded blue letters are still legible. Payson pulls into the Bluejay Diner’s parking lot, and we climb out of the car. He doesn’t even bother to lock the door as we head inside, that’s how sure he is of how invincible we are — or maybe it’s just in my head.
The diner smells of burnt hamburger patties and sour lemonade. It reminds me of all those times we’d grill hamburgers out on his back porch Payson’s dad never seeming able to get it quite right, his mom always “forgetting” the sugar and claiming it was “healthier without it anyways”. We slide into a booth, both on the same side and I smile feeling a sudden warmth fill me up. The place is quiet compared to the car, and I can hear the ticking of the cat shaped clock that I noticed hanging on the far wall when we walked in.
Once the waitress has taken our order, Payson slides his arm around my shoulder. “Promise me,” he whispers in my ear. “Promise me we’ll always have this moment, Angie.”
“I promise.” I kiss him then, not just in a romantic way, but as a way to seal this moment. To seal the promise we’ve just made to each other.
We pull apart when the waitress brings us our drinks. She barely looks at us just sets them down splashing small drops of coke on the table. Payson wipes them away with his shirt sleeve, and I grin into his shoulder. I’ve never loved anyone quite like I love Payson. I want to hold him close to me and ever let go.
Payson drops me off at home around ten. The street lights are on, but I can still barely see his car as he drives away in slow motion. I sink down on my porch step, watching him until the last bit of light vanishes over the horizon and I can’t see anything anymore. The world grows fuzzy in front of my tired eyes. The black of the night feels cool against my sun-burnt skin. He didn’t say anything before he left. He just kissed me on the forehead. I don’t think he wanted to ruin the moment with words, and neither did I. I think that’s what love is. It’s a closeness that doesn’t need words. It defies distance and time. I know Payson and I will be okay in this moment or another.