Drivers Who Drive Late at Night

Liam Riordan

We were sitting outside McDonald’s and it was past midnight and she was making it really easy not to like her. It was stupidly humid, but she made me sit outside with her so she could smoke. You’re not even allowed to smoke outside McDonald’s.

‘What do you think of it?’ she asked me, gyrating her head in a weird way, motioning to anything or everything around her. She could have meant anything. Always making me ask.

‘Think of what?’
‘Maccas.’
‘Maccas? I don’t know, not much.’
‘You don’t think much of it?’
‘I don’t think much about it.’
‘That’s not what I asked,’ she prodded.
‘Fuck, I don’t know. I don’t care, it’s McDonald’s.’

She stared at me, like she was disgusted that I hadn’t contemplated the value of every fast food establishment I’d ever been to.

‘So you don’t care about it?’
‘Yes! Jesus. Why does it matter so much to you?’
‘It doesn’t,’ she said, retreating into herself. ‘I just wanted to know.’

Sullen, she brought her legs up onto the chair and rested her chin on her knees, and she looked cute, and I hated it. It made it harder again to not like her. Just pick one, I thought. Be likeable or don’t, but please, just choose.

‘Why are we here?’ I asked her.
‘Here?’
‘Jesus, Emma, here! Why did you make me drive you to here in the middle of the night? You didn’t even get anything.’
‘I got a Coke.’
‘We have Coke at home.’
She thought about it, and said, ‘not like this. With all the water.’

I stood up, on the edge of the curb. My toes curled over the concrete, barefoot. I ran my hand through my hair. It was humid, my hair wasn’t soft like usual. The air felt heavy at night in the summer, and wasn’t helped by the smell of fast food or the petrol station next door. Brisbane never seemed to understand that it was two in the morning, and stubbornly remained about twenty‐five degrees, all the time. Even when it rained. I hate summer rain. Be hot, or be wet, I don’t care, just choose.

‘What are you thinking about?’

Without turning around, I said, ‘you.’
She didn’t speak. Just waited.
‘Sometimes I feel like you want me to be confused. And irritated.’
‘I don’t want that.’

I sat on the curb, watching the road. Even the traffic didn’t know it was two a.m. ‘There’s really nothing to it,’ she said. ‘It’s just too hot to sleep. To stay in that house.’
‘You’re restless.’
‘Yeah.’

I looked back out onto the road. We never talked anymore, not really. Everything was just stilted questions and short answers. Why this and this is why. The traffic flowed. Everyone sped at this time of night, unafraid of patrols or pedestrians, but the traffic, as a whole, still seemed to just roll on as normal. Why couldn’t someone just crash, or stop, or really speed. Make some noise. Do something. But the traffic just flowed.

‘You’re restless, too.’ And flowed.
‘Can we go home now?’ And flowed.

‘Ok.’

1 Comment

  1. Disclaimer: as a creative writer too, my opinions are obviously my own and you have no obligation to care about them 🙂

    Broadly quite good. I felt like I could see the scene, but that might be because or most young aussies, it’s something we’re all kind of familiar with, not necessarily the piece’s description.

    Some of the sentences could have flowed better. And some of the grammar – misplaced commas mainly – disrupted my reading.

    I reaaaaallly liked the use of repetition and, in particular, the ‘just choose’. I only wish it was maybe developed a little more or this piece was a little longer.

    Truth be told this is the first time I’ve clicked on one of these articles/pieces and I hope I see your name pop up again. Happy midnight driving!

    Like

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