The first time I heard Hate Me, I was in that old piece of shit that Fred let me drive. I’d never heard Blue October before. That first time was a punch in my chest and I had to pull over. Clutching at the steering wheel and breathing deeply, I tried not to cry. That song was my story and I was pretty sure that I’d never given anyone permission to sing about it.
I’ll drive so fucking far away that I never cross your mind…
Turning off the car and silencing the radio, I opened the door so that I could step out into the breakdown lane of the busy highway. Cars sped past me; their wind grabbing at my hair and clothing while the droning sound buzzed in my ears without drowning out the song that had so completely possessed me. Brown, grainy slush splashed up over me and the cold seeped in through my thin jacket. Shivering, I leaned back against the car. I tossed the keys into the front seat and pushed the door closed.
Breathing came hard and I struggled with it a moment before surrendering and letting the tears come. What was I doing? I tried to tell myself that I didn’t know. But if I had been honest with myself then, things may have come out differently. Perhaps there are times that we just need to lie to ourselves. I know that I did then as I walked on the side of the road.
My shoes filled as they sunk down into the ankle deep mix of snow, sand and salt. Shoving my hands into my pockets offered to warmth, but I wasn’t really aware of the cold. Walking bent time and I found myself lost. As each car passed, I considered if it was the one. Now? Was there a magic equation? I figured that there had to be. If there wasn’t, then nothing mattered and nothing made sense. Nothing would work.
Hate me for all the things that I didn’t do for you…
A truck pulled over in front of me. Without thought, I shift my trajectory so that I walked around the vehicle, taking myself on the side closer to traffic. I glanced over at the driver as I shuffled by. I stopped. The window was rolled down and the driver isn’t who I expected. Not sure what I had expected, but she was not it. Large grey eyes framed by long lashes painted black stared at me while she gestured and shouted at me.
“Get in!” she said.
Quickly moving around the front of the truck, I tugged open the passenger door and slid in. Once the door had slammed shut again, she was driving.
“Are you fucking stupid?” she asked.
She glanced at me; flicking her eyes from my shoes to my face in a second and then back to the road again. I gave no reply. There was nothing to say. I wasn’t sure why I had gotten into the truck. Something about her made it impossible for me to disobey her, but I considered then the possibility of opening the door and letting myself fall out onto the road. There was the speed and the number of moving vehicles as factors in my favor.
Silence gripped the small space and she shifted on her side of the bench. Looking at her, I considered the strange creature she was. Two eyebrow piercings and one in her nose. A row of studs marched up the edge of her ear. Black eye liner, eye shadow and lipstick. No foundation. Her skin was already pale. Freckles covered her face.
“Was that your car back there?” she asked.
“It’s Fred’s,” I said.
I turned my face from her and looked out the window so that I could watch everything slipping behind us. Visions of my body tumbling across the road occupied my mind and I was no longer listening to her even though I could hear her voice. Then she was quiet. I was grateful. She was distracting. I looked at her again. Long blond hair was pulled up into a messy blob on top of her head. It wasn’t the bleach kind. This was a mix of browns and reds which were hit hard by streaks of hair so pale it could have been white. This wasn’t the kind of thing that came out of a bottle.
I wanted to kiss her.
And then she whispered “How can you do this to me?”
Shuddering, I pulled my jacket close around me and slid myself against the car door. She turned the heat up higher. Pressing my fingers to my lips and closing my eyes tightly, I tried not to think of all the terrible things that my mouth had already done. This woman was trying to be kind. I wasn’t. I never was.
“So, where are you heading?” she asked.
I gave no answer.
Slush sprayed the windshield and the wipers whisked quickly across the glass. Each pass offered a view out into the traffic. A semi. Oh, that would definitely do the job. The little ford behind it would as well, but there was something grand about the semi. Both would leave me bleeding and broken, but never dead. Tossed about. I liked the idea.
The blinker clicked on and red light reflected in quick winks up from the wet road. She took the exit and followed the curve of the road towards the small town I had spent too much time in. I had not made it very far. I sighed. Why was leaving always so hard?
“You hungry?” she asked.
Pulling into an Irving’s parking lot, she swung up to a gas pump. She didn’t wait for an answer. I sat and watched her fill up the truck. Then she was back in and moving to a parking spot next to the building. Giving me a brief perplexed look, she went inside. I continued to sit there. There was no business for me here…