TEEN FICTION: 'Can You Love Somebody Without Ever Hearing Them Speak?'

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Alamy
Alamy

This is a regular column featuring original fiction by and for high school students, provided by Figment.com, an online community writing site for young people.

"Turn that down," Becky snaps, and Jonathan reaches for the dial on the radio, letting Fleetwood Mac fade into the ether. He doesn’t look at her or even at the dial, just gazes out the windshield of his 1996 Ciera, which is covered in three hours worth of unavoidable insect casualties. Becky is painting her toenails, her feet resting on the dash, and Jonathan thinks about asking her to move them but he doesn’t, because he is the kind of un-confrontational guy who will avoid an argument at all costs.

He checks the rearview mirror to make sure the U-Haul that they are using to move from their old house in Kansas City to a brand new apartment in Topeka. That was another battle that Jonathan now regrets not picking. They’d been on the road barely any time at all and already he was missing his house. He missed the gingham curtains that always prompted guests to compliment Becky’s taste even though Jonathan was the one who had picked them out. He missed the ancient--Jonathan called it "retro"--television set that hadn't been small or light enough to make the move. He even missed the dishwasher, which often leaked all over the floor but could wash the dishes better than any human. Now all of those things -- his things -- belonged to Becky’s elderly parents, moved in from sunny Lancaster, California. Now he can’t even remember why he agreed to take the job from that Topeka-based research company.

Jonathan sighs at this thought and pushes his large wire glasses back up his nose with his left index finger. He looks back up just in time to simultaneously slam on the brakes and the horn in response to a 1996 Mazda pickup that has abruptly cut him off. A trim, pale, beautiful arm rests on the edge of the window, and Jonathan can see strands of long dark hair blowing out the window. The fingers tap along the door rhythmically and Jonathan is entranced. He finds that he wants to see more of this girl than just her arm. It takes him a few miles to find a good way to switch lanes and drive along beside her for a little while. Finally, he swerves in a manner sudden enough to make startle Becky into hissing, "What the hell, Jonathan!?" Her pale blonde eyebrows, so thin that when you first look at her you think she has none, furrow, but she doesn’t look up.

Jonathan pays no attention. He is busy looking at this girl in the truck. She is not striking, but average with flat hair tucked into a braid with a million flyaways. Still, Jonathan is captivated. He wonders if you can fall in love with somebody without ever even hearing them speak. He dismisses the thought, because he know that kind of thing is bullshit. Still, he tries to guess what song this girl is listening to on the radio. He finds that he somehow knows that all the tunes he loves are her favorites, too. He also discovers that he knows that she would call him Johnny, even from the first time they spoke. (Becky has never once called him Johnny.)

Eventually, the girl looks up, sees Jonathan staring at her lovingly, flips him off. She speeds up and pulls another gut-wrenching turn into the fast lane, beginning a barrage of honking from the people behind her.

Jonathan sighs again, wistful at his loss, even though he realizes that his brief encounter was just temporary insanity. Knowing this full well, he still believes that this woman, this woman who has no fear of taking what’s hers, be it a much-too-small gap in traffic or an obscene gesture, has changed him. Well, not forever, but at least for the next few minutes. Without shifting his gaze from traffic, he turns up the stereo as loud as he can stand, delightedly discovering that he can't even hear Becky’s classic, "What the hell!?"

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