ThoughtlessBy: S.C. Stephens
It was the longest drive I had ever been on. That really wasn't saying a whole lot, since I had never driven more than sixty miles away from my home town. Still, by anyone's standards the drive was absurdly long. According to MapQuest, it was roughly thirty-seven hours and eleven minutes long. I'm assuming that's if you're super human and never need a pit stop, of course.
My boyfriend and I were driving away from Athens, Ohio. I had been born and raised there, along with every other member of my family. It was never discussed among our little foursome, but it was a known-from-birth fact, that my sister and I would be attending and graduating Ohio University. Therefore, it had been a terrible family tragedy, when a few months ago, during my second year there, I'd made plans to transfer out in the fall. What had shocked them even more, if that were possible, was the fact that I was transferring nearly twenty-five hundred miles away to Washington, more specifically, the University of Washington in Seattle. I had landed a pretty nice scholarship though, and that had definitely helped to sway my parents. Helped, but only a little. Family gatherings were going to be...colorful from now on.
The reason for my transfer was sitting beside me, driving us away in his beat-up Honda. I looked over at him and smiled. Denny Harris. He was beautiful. I know, it's not the manliest way to describe a guy, but in my head, it was the adjective I used most often and it fit him to a tee. He was originally from a small town in Queensland, Australia, and a lifetime spent in the water at that exotic locale had left him tan and muscular, but not in a beefy kind of way. No, a more natural, proportioned, athletic way. He wasn't overly tall for a guy, but he was taller than me, even when I wore heels, and that was enough. His hair was a dark, dark brown and he liked to have it lightly styled into chunky, but orderly pieces, which I loved to do for him and he adoringly let me, sighing and complaining the whole while that he was just going to shave it off one day. He loved it though.
His eyes were warm and a deep, dark brown and were currently turned in my direction to sparkle at me. "Hey, babe. Not too much longer now, maybe a couple of hours." The way his accent slid over his words was curiously intoxicating to me. It never ceased to bring me some small sliver of joy, as weird as that was.
Luckily for me, Denny had an Aunt who, three years ago, had been offered a position at Ohio University and moved over here. Denny, being the sweetheart that he is, had decided to come with her, and help her get settled. Having loved being in the States for a year back in high school, it didn't take him long to decide to transfer to Ohio U, which to my parents, up until he had swept me away that is, made him the ideal candidate for my affections. I sighed and hoped they got over this college thing quickly.
Thinking I was sighing at his statement, Denny added, "I know you're tired, Kiera. We'll just be a minute at Pete's and then we can go home and crash."
I nodded and closed my eyes.
Pete's was apparently the name of the popular bar where our new roommate, Kellan Kyle, was a local rock star. Though we were heading off to be his new permanent house guests, I didn't know much about him. I knew that while doing his junior year of high school abroad, Denny had stayed with Kellan and his parents, and I knew that Kellan played in a band. Yep, I knew two whole facts about our mysterious new roomie.
I opened my eyes and stared out the dark side window, watching the thick, green trees blur past me, an odd orange glow cast upon them from the numerous streetlamps on the freeway. We had finally made it over the last mountain pass; I had been worried for a moment there that Denny's old car wouldn't be able to make it. We were currently zigzagging past lush forest, rocky waterfalls and vast lakes sparkling in the moonlight. Even in the dark of night, I could tell it was beautiful here. I could already see a new life opening up for me in this picturesque State.
Our departure from my comfortable life in Athens had started several months ago, with Denny's impending graduation from Ohio U. He was brilliant, and I wasn't the only one who thought so. Gifted, is how his professors commonly referred to him. They had written him numerous letters of recommendation and Denny had started applying for jobs everywhere.
I couldn't bear the thought of him leaving, even if only for two years until I finished school, so I applied to Universities and Colleges everywhere that Denny applied for a job or internship. My sister, Anna, thought that was odd. She wasn't exactly the type to go traipsing around the Country after a guy, not even an attractive one like Denny. But I couldn't stop myself. I could not bear to be without that boy's goofy grin.
Of course, being so brilliant, he landed his dream internship in Seattle. He was going to work for a company that, according to Denny, was one of the leading advertising agencies in the world, and was responsible for coming up with a certain golden-arched fast-food chain's world renowned jingle. He would repeat that fact to anyone who would listen, and he said it with an odd look of reverence, like they had invented air, or something. Apparently, their internships are really rare. And not just in how many a year they offer, but also in how involved they allow their interns to be with projects. Denny would immediately be a member of the team, not just a fetching boy. He had been practically giddy in his excitement to leave for Seattle.
I had been a panicky mess. I had downed a half bottle of Pepto daily, until I'd finally received my acceptance for transfer to the University of Washington. Perfect! Then I somehow managed to swing a scholarship that paid for nearly all of my tuition (I wasn't Denny's level of brilliance, but I wasn't a dummy either). Double Perfect! The fact that Denny actually knew people in that particular city, and that one of them had an extra room for us, at a fraction of the rate we were expecting to pay, well, it made the whole affair seem like it was fated to be.
I smiled as I watched the names of roads, parks and small towns fly by us. We were coming upon towns more frequently now, starting to move away from the majestic mountains that I could no longer see behind us in the darkness. Rain spattered our window as we approached a larger city with a sign directing us towards Seattle. We were getting closer. Our new life would start soon. I knew virtually nothing of our new city, but I would get to figure it all out with Denny by my side. I reached over to grab his hand and he smiled softly at me.
Denny had graduated a week ago with his double-major in Business Economics and Marketing (the hunky dork) and we'd packed up to leave. His new job required him to be there this coming Monday. My parents had not been thrilled about the all-too-soon separation. Once they had grudgingly accepted my decision to leave, they had been looking forward to having me for one last summer. While I would miss them terribly, Denny and I had been living apart, he at his Aunt's and me with my parent's, for nearly two achingly long years and I was eager to advance our relationship. I had tried to keep a solemn face while kissing them all goodbye, but on the inside, I had been glowing with the thought of finally being on our own.
The only part of the move I had protested, vehemently, was driving there. A few hours in a plane versus days in a cramped car...it really was a no brainer to me. But Denny had some odd attachment to his vehicle and refused to leave it behind. I suppose it would be convenient to have a car in Seattle, but I got a good half day of sulking out of it anyway. After that, Denny had just made the trip too much fun to complain anymore, and of course, he had found numerous ways to make his car quite...comfortable. There were a couple of rest stops that are now forever etched in my fondest memories.
I smiled widely at that thought and bit my lip, once again excited at the very idea of a place of our own. The ride had been entertaining and full of many happy memories, but we had driven straight through. Even in my happiness, I was bone-tired. And even though Denny had managed to make his car surprisingly cozy, it was still a car, and I was dreaming of an actual bed. My smile turned into a contented sigh when the lights of Seattle finally showed themselves to us.