the ride home

Written by Cassidy Bull
Art by cottonbro

fond memories of the roads
in my hometown
small winding streets slithering through the night
woods and swamps on either side
where the moon can’t reach
there’s no money for street lights
so semi reliable headlights we rely on instead
heart pattering too fast
passenger seat
gas pedal too fast
drivers seat
lengthy highways
no scenic view
left lane solely
passing perpetually vacant parking lots
then sun heat shining through untinted windshield
aviators polarized barely shielding eyes from florida sun
arms hang out beat up pickup truck windows
tanned from elbow down
high school habits cemented in me now
I always take the back road to the market
I always cut through old friend’s neighborhood to dale mabry main road
all roads lead back
I remember a boy who used to drive me
around sometimes
to places with people barely known to me
and around sometimes to
venues on corners with friends from class
I liked the way he drove
at night
down back roads too accelerated
too sharp turns
only one hand steering
sometimes none
a few times lost
who needs maps in hometowns?
not us
occasionally misplaced ourselves on the way home
at midnight
just a tad turned around
righted ourselves though
signs marking next county over read
turned right around
driving now in my own hometown a trip down
memory lane
etched in asphalt
in signs marking exits
to the coffee shop where I skipped school
to the now closed down diner with Elvis booths for two
to the park with the bench on which first kissed
exits I take but don’t stay because memories stay in the past
so I drive past
merge back to main road
because side streets remind me of that boy who auxed my favorite album
blaring loud
windows down
I never told him it was my favorite
maybe that’s the boy I should’ve kissed
too late
I can only see him in rearview mirrors
he’s just a memory now