There should have existed a way to select Uber drivers based on how chatty they were. I did not like to make small talk with them, tell them where I was from, why I was visiting, how I was related to this girl sitting next to me, and more importantly, why we were both so quiet.
I was just happy that it was warm inside the vehicle. The snow falling outside my window didn’t seem all that sweet and romantic all of a sudden. It was ugly. A reminder of what I’d just done, which at the time had seemed… kind of romantic.
I could still feel his touch on my skin, his electrifying presence, his affect on my sensibilities.
“Dinner with family and friends can be tiring,” the driver continued in his East Asian accent. He was making a lot of assumptions and I caught him trying to check on Vicky through his mirror.
“She’s not drunk,” I said. Vicky had been resting her head against the window with her eyes closed. I could only imagine how emotionally draining this might have been for her, especially since she’d brought up the whole high school debacle. She’d never spoken about that or made me feel shitty over it pretty much since it was all settled.
“I wish I was,” she mumbled, then sat up straight before pulling her phone out of her bag.
“Don’t text him,” I said, knowing that she had a habit of obsessively texting people she was mad at. One sure shot way to get Vicky’s attention was to have a fight with her. She’d most definitely not leave you alone even if you tried to get away. That didn’t only apply to her exes but also to me. If I were her and had just watched my best friend kiss my ex boyfriend, I would not be sitting in the same cab with her to go back home. Vicky was just horrible at confrontation. She was scared to lose people, even if they wronged her. But that’s not why I thought she’d forgive me and move past it. I knew that she genuinely loved me and I was worried that I’d hurt her for real, even though she had to have known in her heart that there was no future between her and Jack.
“I’m not fucking texting him,” she said, emphasizing on fucking. “I’m not a retard like you.”
Our driver shook his right hand and made an O face while looking through the mirror.
“Could you mind your own goddamn business?” I snapped and he straightened his face.
“What? Don’t get mad at him,” Vicky started, pointing her hand at him. “Poor guy didn’t do anything offensive tonight. You on the other hand…”
She showed me her palm to cut me off. “Sir, you might want to give her a low rating after you drop us off. Between you and me, she has a habit of giving a poor rating to Uber drivers who talk too much, just because she doesn’t enjoy making small talk with them. It’s a shitty thing to do for sure, but then again, doing shitty things comes naturally to our friend over here.”
She did the quote unquote gesture with her hands when she said the word friend.
“Look,” I said lowly, realizing that we were now stuck in the city traffic and that there was no escaping this conversation. I wished that I could’ve waited to get home before talking about this, but that wasn’t about to happen. “We can discuss this in a civil way.”
“You’re right,” she raised her voice. “Civil it is. But let me first stick a tongue down the throat of your ex. How about that Carter guy that you liked so much in school? You still in love with him? If you are then-”
She had teary eyes when she started searching for something on her phone, then showing me his Facebook profile. “Then he would qualify.”
Vicky had shoved her phone in my face. “I’m sorry,” I started, fighting the urge to comment on Carter’s recent profile picture. He’d changed a lot since I last saw his pimple ridden face with those big nerdy glasses. Maybe he was the guy I needed to get back in touch with if Jack didn’t leave my thoughts.
“Speaking of high school,” she went back to searching on her phone and completely ignoring my barely sincere apology. “Here.”
I said barely sincerely because I was still thinking about Jack, even through this fight with Vicky. My mind had registered exactly how he’d kissed me, the rawness of it. It lacked rhythm. It lacked patience. It was as if he just couldn’t wait to taste of all me.
Vicky shoved her phone in my face again. It was a picture of her with her parents from back in the day. It was a random shot where none of them were smiling.
The picture had no direct correlation to what she was trying to tell me but I understood her point. “I just said I’m sorry.”
“You let me get expelled,” she said, her voice shaky and louder than before. The tear that had been resting in the corner of her eye finally fell on her lap. She sniffled, then rubbed her nose with the back of her arm.
“Ew,” I whispered.
“Your face is ew,” she snapped, placing both her hands on my shoulder and pushing me.
“How fucking dare -”
“Ladies,” our driver interrupted me mid-sentence. “Not here. If you do this shit here, I’ll have to ask you both to get off. Or at least one of you to get off.”
“I’ll go,” I said, looking out the window and seeing rows of vehicles still parked in the same spot. New York City wasn’t so glamorous to me at the moment. “Congratulations Vick. You’ve had a physical fight with two people tonight.”
“Wait,” the driver said just when I opened the door to step out. “Am I safe with her? Can she leave instead?”
“Yeah…,” I started.
“No, she’s not leaving. But yeah, you’re getting a one star rating.”
Oh, the honking and my freezing hands.
I desperately wanted to be back in California. Actually, right this second, I wish I were back with my mother. As I started walking back to where we’d taken the Uber from, I recalled the day when Mom told me that I’d done the right thing.
It was back in high school, days after Vicky had had the worst experience of her life. She’d been caught with marijuana, and I’d kind of helped them catch her. Let me clarify. I didn’t help them, or at least know at the time that I was doing it.
They’d asked me a question about whether or not I thought that she brought weed to school. I just didn’t respond back. I refused to throw my friend under the bus but I also didn’t want to lie. I used to be bad at hiding my feelings though. Whatever was on my mind was usually on my tongue. That’s probably why Jack had said that I had a sharp, or rather… a filthy tongue. I couldn’t remember exactly what he’d said. My brain was a mess right now. I was thinking too hard. I was too cold. And I needed to sit down, but sitting down meant digging inside and looking for answers.
I was guilty about what had happened today but there was something about Jack that intrigued me. I wanted to kiss him again, but that’s not why I was going back to his place. I was walking toward him because I honestly couldn’t think of another place to go.
I would check myself into a hotel, sure. But I was in Upper Manhattan, and every hotel in this part of the city, especially last minute would cost me my legs. The concierge at Jack’s building had just seen me so he’d probably let me just sit in the lobby like a well put together homeless person waiting for the sun to rise. That would give me enough time to search for flights and book one for the next day.
“We meet again chandelier,” I mumbled, feeling a little embarrassed and pinning my hair behind my ear.
I quickly searched for the little velvety seat that was sitting under the staircase because it was slightly hidden so the chances of someone noticing a little homeless person sitting in that corner were slim.
But tonight wasn’t my night, was it?
It had only been a couple of minutes since I’d parked my ass on the soft maroon seat when I saw someone’s hair blonde hair hanging to my right. And then I saw the face.
“Karina,” I said, startled. “How are you?”
That question didn’t particularly make sense since I’d just seen the woman.
“Having trouble finding a ride?” She asked, exploring the rest of the lobby. I assumed that she was looking for any sign of Vicky.
“I thought Jack said you guys left?”
“We did,” I nodded. “Well, she did. I just… I umm…”
“It’s fine,” she took her hand off the side of the staircase and straightened her posture. “I’ll let Jack know that you’re still here. He could probably help you get a ride home.”
“No,” I showed her my palm just when she hit his name on her phone. It was too late.
Believe it or not, I didn’t hate Karina too much in this moment. There was something different about her. It was as if she’d turned into a different person with Vicky or maybe she was just pretending to be nice now. I didn’t know the real side of Karina Gold, but I didn’t think that she was worth the hatred that she would’ve received from me had I not come back here tonight.
“Alright,” she smiled, sliding her bag over her shoulder. “He said he’ll be right down. And I have to get going. I’m living with my son for a while but that doesn’t mean I cease to have a life of my own. “
“Of course,” I shrugged, contemplating if I should ask more questions about what she was referring to.
“Marital separation is an ugly thing,” she said, then turned around. “Never marry a fucking bastard.”
I turned my lips downward and nodded.
“Mrs. Gold?” I said, and she turned to look at me. “Thanks, hope you have a great evening.”
We both saw Jack wandering around, trying to find me.
“You do too, my dear.”