Alice crawled back into the car and sat quietly.

“You fucking reek,” Joseph complained. “What did you do that for?”

Everything that had happened in the past few minutes had shaken her, and her head was full of static. Reaching for individual words felt like dipping her fingers into a bowl of Spaghetti-os to pull the rings out one by one. “What do you care? We’re almost there, right?”

Joseph was less thrilled: “I’ve had it up to here with your attitude. You’re lucky I’m driving you.”

“Lucky? You’re my only option.”

“Whose fault is that? How are you ██ and still can’t drive yourself?”

Her mind, at this moment, felt itself fracturing into three opposing thoughts:

  1. Wow, that really hurt.
  2. I don’t owe him anything. I’m disabled. What a dick.
  3. Wait, what number did he say?

That first fracture kept chugging along through its attempt at making words. “I carpool. It’s better for the environment.”

“Keep telling yourself that.”

They started driving again, and one of them must have turned the music back on, though she couldn’t say who; she was perfectly content, at this point, to listen to the smooth sounds of The Rippingtons. Anything to get out of her own head.

The sun above the road.