Something I wrote when I was 18, about a night I once had.
I believe everyone has their own personal ways of loving someone, in the same way that some people say “I love you” by telling you to wear your seatbelt. I always knew this because it happened to me when I was in a car with a boy I once loved. It wasn’t dying love or anything, I mean, maybe, but we were young, it was whatever it was at the time, but I did adore him, and he really loved me, I truly believe that. No matter what happened in the end, he did love me once.
He didn’t realise I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, the first thing he did as he climbed into the car was click his into place, though I never did. We’d been driving down this long, empty road for a while in silence before he properly turned to look at me. It was dark and the only light was that of the moon and the street lamps aligned along the side of the road, flashing in and out through the car windows as we passed underneath them. We didn’t talk, it was a comfortable silence, and considering it was so dark it’s surprising how much I remember of it now, though I guess that only explains how significant the moment was.
He kind of let out a breathy laugh and looked at me, his eyes were wide and I swear I could see panic flash through them as he asks why I’m not wearing my seatbelt. I said I didn’t know – that I never wear it. Normally a person’s natural instinct is to reach for their seatbelt the second they get into a car, though mine never was. Maybe it was a death wish or maybe I just didn’t care. I feel like it was more of the latter. I wasn’t wishing for anything bad to happen but if it did, I didn’t care enough to want to save myself.
He looks at me and smiles, because he knows that this is me all over, this is the damage he’s dealing with, but he doesn’t mind.
“Put it on,” he laughs. His eyes are getting wider but his smile never fades as he repeats it to me again. “Put it on, Chlo. Why don’t you wear one?”
I don’t answer, just laugh and shake my head. The truth was I didn’t really know – like I said, I guess I just never had, but at the same time the real answer in the back of my mind was getting quieter and quieter until I could barely hear it at all. That answer I wanted to keep locked safely in my mind, there was no way I’d tell him that.
The words remained safely in my mouth.
“Put it on!” He laughs again in disbelief as I continue to get lost inside my own head, but I do as he says. I turn away to look out of the window for a while, slowly inching my hand further towards his in the space between us, his hand already there, waiting for mine. We find each other as our fingers intertwine, fitting together like a puzzle with jagged edges and missing pieces we knew we’d never find, though we continued to try and put the picture together anyway, even if we knew it would always remain incomplete.
We stay like this for the rest of the drive.