by Nana K. Adjei-Brenyah
I was home on break. Freezing rain came and went. The cold, however, crossed its arms and chained itself to everything.
She was a friend from high school. I’d changed since, I thought. She crossed my mind when I thought about my inadequacies. My thinking was, if I can be who I was at the University here, then the power belonged to me and not the environment.
In a text, she asked me how much time she had before I was close. I called her to say I was already there.
The rain looked mean and jagged from inside the car. I leaned over to pop the passenger side door open.
“Hey,” she smiled. She gave me the kind of hug you give in car.
“Long time no see!” she said. She pulled her hood back and assessed the soaked arms of her jacket.
“Too long,” I said. “How have you been?” We drove off.
“I’ve been good. It’s been alright. You know.” She said she was planning on transferring out of the community college next semester, she wasn’t sure where to.
“You seem to be living the life up there though,” she said, a friendly accusation, “I’ve seen some pictures.”
“Everything looks better on Facebook,” I said, “We don’t take pictures of the nights we stay in studying.” She laughed a little. “But it’s pretty fun.”
“I bet,” she said.
“So you wanna – ”Suddenly sliding, the trunk of the car punched into the middle of the street. We sat in horizontal weightlessness and waited for a final crush. No painted lines can save you. I kept slamming the brake thinking, “Not yet! Not yet!” Fear scalded our blood black. I imagined our bodies flying, hurtling, jerking, rattling and scraping their way to a cold, gory sanctuary just for us. We slid and sledged on the road for about four entire seconds before traction swooped in to save us. We stopped. That moment, for one second, we saw clearly and loved ourselves and everything around us. I drove to the curb and parked. I could see her brown eyes in the light of an approaching car. They reflected our terrible mortalities, hers and mine. The oncoming car slowed as it approached, as if considering assisting us. It speed off before reaching a full stop.
“Are you okay?” I asked, like my words could change anything if they weren’t.
“I’m fine,” she said, like we aren’t all balloon people.
I got out and checked all the tires. I didn’t know what I was doing.
“Wow,” I said, when I was back in the car.
“Yeah,“ she said.
Nothing could match the feeling of being on the ice, so we got snacks from the Mobile, and I took her back home. I waited until she got in before I pulled off. I drove home, slowly. I thought, it is the environment, not me. I’d known the power wasn’t mine from the moment she’d sat in the car.
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is currently working towards his MFA at Syracuse University. He is the winner of Broken Pencil’s 2013 Writer’s Deathmatch and his work has been featured in Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Gravel Online Journal and Compose: A Journal of Simply Good Writing.