A car swerved into the store parking lot and came to a halt at her side. She glanced up, and seeing Steve, smiled. He leaned out the window.
“What’re you up to, Girl?”
“I need a coke or somethin’ cold.”
Steve got out of the car and reached into his jeans’ pocket. “Here.” He dumped a fistful of change into her palm.
“Thanks. You want something?”
”Naw. I got my own drink out here. I’ll wait for you, though, and run you back to campus. Ok?”
“Ok. Be right back.”
When she came out, soda bottle tilted and cold coke trickling down her parched throat, she saw he’d turned the car around, so he could watch her walk across the parking lot. She grinned and began sashaying like a model on a runway. He gunned the motor and peeled out to meet her.
“Get in, Goofy Girl.”
“I’m in. Let’s go.”
He pulled out of the lot and turned the nose of the Torino toward the west.
“Hey! This isn’t the way to school!”
“I just decided to take the long way back. I’ve had a bad day…I wanna see the sun going down.”
She watched his face as they headed toward the hills surrounding the little Tennessee town. He switched on the radio and they listened to the Top 40 Countdown.
Steve parked the car at the top of the ridge that stood above the town. The lights below winked, and the breeze of the nearby mountains blew across their faces. As he turned to look at her, she saw the burden of his family troubles in his eyes. He was whipped and defeated. Sadness oozed from him, and she grew worried the longer she watched. She put out her hand and brushed the hair from his cheek.
“My dad. He left.”
“You mean, for good?”
“Yep.” He stretched his hand under the seat and pulled out a Jack Daniel’s bottle. The amber liquid sloshed around and gurgled as he tipped it up and took a sip. The smell of liquor seeped out from his mouth and made her queasy.
”Don’t. You thought you knew all about me, didn’t you?”
“Nope. Girl, you don’t know the real me. You don’t know the guy that’s got a dad who’s a drunk and a mom who’s on her way to that, too.” His eyes weren’t soft and blue anymore. They pierced her soul with their hopelessness and grief. “This stuff here…this is the real me. I came here, to this Christian school, to beat you good girls at your own game.” He laughed and shoved the bottle back under his seat. He turned his face away and stared at the town below.
“Steve…you aren’t like them…not like your parents. You’re a senior and you’re nearly there—you can move out…start a new life—”
“With you?” he interrupted. “You think you want that? You don’t know anything. You think you want that…” he repeated softly. “Aw…shoot. Nevermind.” He waved her away. Then he glared at her. “You think I’m saved, Girl? I’m here to get rid of the game…to tell you the truth before you get any more ideas about me.” His voice was hard, but he didn’t fool her. She reached out and touched his hand.
“Trying to scare me off? No way, Steve. I’m your friend and I’m not going anywhere.”
He searched out the whiskey and drank a full swallow. This time, his eyes were filled with tears when he pushed the bottle back under the seat. He shook his head, wiped his face, and re-started the car.
When he dropped her off at her dorm, she sensed he was already distancing himself from her.
“Steve…God loves you. You know that. You know He doesn’t care where you’re running from, so long as you’re running to Him. Right?”
He wouldn’t look at her as he pulled away from the curb, but she saw his eyes watching her in his rearview mirror. “Say ‘yes’ to God, Steve.” she whispered. With a heavy heart she watched the red lights of his car disappear into the darkness.
The next day, she got word that he’d left school. For weeks she dreamed that she was searching for him, but the dreams finally stopped, and she never discovered what became of him. But she knew that God knew…and God never plays games.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
Accept Jesus as Your Lord and Savior Right Now - CLICK HERE
JOIN US at FaithWriters for Free. Grow as a Writer and Spread the Gospel.