The Song


It was close to noon and the road was nearly empty. On either side were old houses with rusting mailboxes waiting to be used at the edge of the street. Out of the corner of his eye Scott could see his buddy Roger had put his feet up on the dashboard in the passenger seat of Scott’s white sedan, his arms folded lightly across his chest and his eyes closed, his head tilting to one side, as though in the process of falling asleep. They were twenty miles away from the Ohio state line and eighty miles away from a house Scott was in the process of moving into, the destination of a long two-day drive from Virginia. Scott turned on the radio.
    Roger lifted his head. “No. Wait. Let me choose the music.”
    Scott felt a grin tug at the side of his mouth. “Why? It’s my car, I choose the music.”
    “Guy riding shotgun chooses the music, so the driver can focus on the road.” Roger uncrossed his arms and started flipping through stations, finally settling on one he liked, one playing a song with a fast beat and energetic lyrics. “Are we in Ohio yet?” he asked.
    “We’re still a fair way away from the house.” Scott said. Roger grunted. “Has Mattie tried calling you yet?” he asked.
“No. I’ll talk to her later.” Scott said. They listened to the radio in silence. After a while, the music was replaced by commercials. Scott dug into his pocket to pull out his phone, handing it to Roger. “Here. Just plug my phone in and choose something from my playlist.”
    Roger took his feet down from the dashboard and leaned over towards the radio to plug the phone into the car. He fiddled with it for a moment, and then a song that Scott had listened to before but had not heard for about a month or so began playing through the speakers, a bittersweet tune with melancholic lyrics, about a woman afraid of falling in love. And suddenly Scott was overcome with a memory, of a picture set on a sidewalk in a Virginia suburb nearly a month ago. The sun had already set and the sky had begun fading into a deep blue, and a handful of stars had become visible. He was holding the hand of the girl walking next to him, a girl with wide blue eyes that reflected the color of the sky and with soft features marked almost imperceptibly by acne scars around her chin. Her brown hair was tied back into a simple knot. She was smiling widely, almost laughing, humming the words to the song now playing over the speakers in Scott’s car.
    “Change the song.” he said, more forcefully than intended. Roger looked at him, surprised. “Damn, dude.” But he skipped to the next song in the playlist. “I thought you liked that song.”
    “I don’t. Just reminds me of Mattie. Just don’t wanna hear it.”
    “Oh.” Roger said, as though that one word was the only thing he could think of to say.