'Road Trip At Night' by Zach Murphy

Jared drove as the rain pounded the windshield and the wipers squeaked to ear-twitching levels. His girlfriend Tammy sat in the passenger seat. Julie and Tim sat in the back. A suitcase rested between the two. They pretty much broke up in the morning. Tim blamed Julie for everything.
       ‘You two are quiet,’ Tammy said, peaking around the seat. Julie let out a ‘Meh.’
       ‘Well, it’s all downhill from here,’ said Jared.
       ‘In the good way or the bad way?’ asked Tim.
       ‘Good, of course.’
       They were still about three hours away from Jared’s cabin up North. Tim squirmed. He couldn’t bring himself to turn his head even an inch toward Julie’s direction. The awkwardness practically fogged the windows.
       ‘You guys want some Combos?’ Tammy asked, holding out the bag.
        Tim shook his head, ‘No thanks, I’m not really a pretzel guy.’
       ‘I’ve always thought the cheese and pretzel go really well together,’ said Tammy. ‘Julie?’
       ‘Sure,’ Julie said, grabbing a small handful. She crunched into them. The noise from the chewing sounded violent to Tim.
       ‘Can you turn on the radio?’ Tim asked.
       Jared snapped on the dial. Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing in the Dark’ faded in through the speakers. Tim clenched his jaw as he glanced out the window and noticed his reflection. He was beside himself.
       ‘Wait,’ Tim proclaimed.
       ‘What?’ Jared asked.
       ‘It’s me,’ Tim answered.
       Julie turned and gave Tim a strange look. Tammy’s face popped out from behind the back of her seat, ‘What’s you?’
       Tim sat up, gesturing with his hands, ‘You know when you’re riding in a car at night, and a light glares on the window in a certain way, and you see your reflection off to the side and it feels like you’re sitting next to yourself?’
       ‘I’m not following,’ said Jared.
       ‘When it happens to me, I feel all weird and uncomfortable. Like, I don’t want to be near me. I can’t stand it,’ Tim continued.
       Julie face-palmed. Tammy and Jared looked at each other from the corner of their eyes.
       ‘I still don’t get it,’ said Jared.
       ‘Never mind,’ Tim said, slouching down.
       Just then, the light occurred again. Tim took a deep breath, unbuckled his seatbelt, opened the car door and tuck-and-rolled out into the rain, onto the pavement.
       Tim was alright—he just needed some fresh air.

Zach Murphy is a Hawaii-born, multi-faceted writer who somehow ended up in the charming but often chilly land of St. Paul, Minnesota. His stories have appeared in Haute Dish, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, WINK, and the Wayne Literary Review. He lives with his wonderful wife Kelly and loves cats and movies. You can read his film reviews at http://fadetozach.blogspot.com/.

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