“Text me when you get home,” she said, her big brown eyes filled with concern. “I will” I replied, smiling. She smiled back. I turned away and headed to my car. The lock clicked as her front door closed behind me. I didn’t look back. I needed the practice, needed to make it a familiar routine.

My car unlocked manually. The remote had long since fallen off the keychain. I opened the driver’s side door with the usual ka-chunk of the latch and started the car. It filled with radio music as the engine roared to life. With a gentle touch on the gas, the car rolled onto the street. The tires ground on the pavement as the car hit the asphalt of the road, which was where my attention was locked. I would not glance back at her house.

The streetlight cast a dim glow on the pothole-covered streets. After every rain, a spattering of potholes appeared in the road. A week or so later, they would be haphazardly filled in. The town was over a hundred years old, and the roads had been repaired maybe twice. I knew I should save my tires, but I ached for the speed. I ached to move forward. I ached to look back.

The lights of the road at night had always fascinated me. Without the sun, each one shone so much further. If there had been traffic, the night would have been a strange kaleidoscope of red, yellow, and green. If there had been traffic, maybe it would have made more sense. Maybe saving my tires would have prevented it, or maybe it wouldn’t have. I ached to move forward. I never texted her back.

1/29/2017

“Text me when you get home” she said. He never did.