Red Bouncing Off of Red

Cindi R

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It was the end of the football game and Jason was getting on Murphy’s last nerve. Jason was outside of the red car, hand dangling on the door, while his other hand sporadically texted on his phone. Knowing him, it was most likely Melanie, Murphy thought exasperatedly. Raising his arm up, he took a selfie, making a kissy face up at the camera. Yep, Murphy rolled his eyes, definitely. “Dude hurry up, my mom is going to kill me if I’m late for curfew,” complained Murphy from the driver’s seat. In one fluid motion, Jason held up a finger with his right hand, texted with his left hand, and got into the passenger seat of the car. The door slammed and the tires screeched as the boys sped out of the near-deserted school parking lot. Murphy’s phone rang with an obnoxiously loud jingle. He glanced down at it and groaned, “It’s my mom, can you please pick it up for me?” Jason obliged and after a brief and cheery interaction with Mama Murphy, he hung up and threw the phone back into the cup holder. “Dude.” “Bro, you know that there is literally no way on this green Earth that you are dropping me off at my house and getting home in less than 10 minutes right?” Murphy thought for a second, discouraged. An idea popped into his head and he looked up at Jason. “Guess I’ll just have to go faster then, huh?” He pumped the gas and the car swiftly climbed to five miles per minute above the speed limit, then 10, then 15… Dimly he was aware that he was, in fact, being an absolute idiot. Speeding while one of his headlights were out on a winding road in near darkness? Yeah, definitely an absolute idiot move. “Hey can Melanie, come to the lake with us this weekend?” Jason asked, his phone illuminating his face. Murphy noticed that he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. Just great. He thought bitterly. First we lose the game, then I’m going to be late to curfew, and now Melanie? Can’t the universe just give me a break? The one working headlight reflected off the yellow street sign. Deer Crossing. “Murph, did you hear me?” Jason waved his phone in front of Murphy’s face, “Yes or no? Time’s a-wastin’.” Angrily, Murphy slapped Jason’s hand away from his face and snapped his head towards the passenger seat, spots momentarily obscuring his vision. “Can you please chill? I’m trying to drive.” “Jeez okay, you don’t have to be such a drama queen about it. It was just a question.” “It’s never just a question with you Jason, it’s always ‘Melanie this’ and ‘Melanie that’ and ‘can Melanie come to the lake this weekend?’.” Murphy said in a mocking tone. “…What’s that supposed to mean?” He signed and rubbed his eyes, “…it’s nothing,” he lied. He looked up at the road again and was dimly aware of the blur jumping in front of the hood of his car. Poor Murphy. If only he wasn’t so focused on time and wallowing in his own anger and self-pity, then he could’ve assessed the situation properly. Perhaps if he had just taken a breath, warned his mother that he might be late, slowed down when he saw that yellow sign, gotten his headlights fixed like he promised last week, just told Jason to cut it out before all of this…but he didn’t. Now he and Jason are being rushed to the hospital and his mother is getting a call and red is bouncing off of red.