Independent Quarterly Literary Magazine
Revista Literária Independente Trimestral

New York / Lisboa











By Kaleigh Longe




There was wind in my hair, and smooth leather caressing the palm of my loose handed grip on the steering wheel. We left the party and went driving out, out, out, into the night where the summer air felt like the warm breath of a lover trailing kisses on your neck. I’d been waiting for so long, so damn long to have you to myself like this. We’d been driving for hours, it seemed like. The party we’d been at, the people that had surrounded us, they all felt like a distant memory—no, further than that—they were someone else’s memory, told to me many years ago, of little consequence to me. I had no connection to any of it.

I didn’t know whose party it had been, or how you knew the host, or why you had invited me to come, but I knew that night would be my chance. My arms were so tired from constantly reaching out, grasping for you, wanting to confess my rather foolish crush. Isn’t it always the way? Boy and girl, friends from childhood, separated for years, and when they reunite: well, boy goes crazy realizing the girl whose pigtails he used to pull is suddenly . . . everything. But I’d been afraid to say it, all too aware of how quickly my hopes could turn to ash around me. And yet the night whispered possibilities into my ear, tantalizing me with could-be kisses and images of a blissful future together.
Sometime around two, you finished off a hastily rolled joint and pointed silently at the dim glow on the dashboard and I realized that without even a goodbye, Monday had given way to Tuesday; tomorrow had become today, once an idea, now a reality. I opened my mouth to tell you what I was thinking, but you pulled a bottle from your purse with a mischievous smile and offered it to me. The reasonable part of my brain told me not to drink, that I was already buzzed, but the part of my brain that was in love with you told me to give you anything you wanted. And so I pressed the bottle to my lips, peeking over the top to keep my eyes on the road, feeling the stickiness of the whiskey dried around the edges. I tried to hand it back to you, but you shook your head at me, blue eyes sparkling like maybe you could love me too.

And then it was 3am. And I was drunk and you were stoned and even though the lazy moon was barely winking over the tops of the trees, I could’ve sworn everything around me was glowing. And that highway just kept shifting, subtly, so subtly, peeling away from the world until it no longer belonged to the earth. It was ours. Town highway. Population: two giddy twentysomethings. The sea of black in front of us, unpenetrated by the shimmer of my headlights was the most beautiful thing I thought I’d ever seen. Apart from you, of course.

And then when the rain started to patter quietly down onto the windshield, my blood turned to desire, and all I wanted was to stop the car and dance you across four lanes of empty pavement, watch the water soak your hair and trickle down your perfect lips.

The gentle touch of your fingertips on my arm drew me out of my daydream.

“Catch that star for me,” you said, pointing.

“Which one?” I asked, unable to see through the rain which was falling in earnest now.

“That one, right there, on the left,” you said, with an insistent gesture at the sky.

I smiled at your whimsical demand and pressed down on the accelerator, sending us cannonballing toward the stars.

If I could go back and wish on that star, I’d wish I hadn’t done that. I’d wish we had stayed at the party. I’d wish we had gone home. I’d even wish we had never met.

I don’t know why I did it. Maybe it was because I was so caught up in daydreams of you. Maybe I hit the brakes because I wanted to slow down time. Maybe I realized we were shooting forward at 90mph and panicked. Maybe I was just drunk. Either way, I hit the brakes.

I don’t know why it happened. Maybe the road was slippery from the rain. Maybe something went wrong with the car. Maybe my alcohol soaked brain made me jerk the wheel. Either way, I lost control.

Suddenly we were a soon-to-be news story.

Crash. The car struck the guard rail. It flipped once and I wasn’t sure if that sound was the sound of the car smashing into the pavement or if it was starting to thunder. It flipped a second time and those tiny drops of water were like bullets falling so hard and fast I couldn’t hear what you were screaming.

Your last words, and I didn’t even hear them.

The car skidded to a stop, a huge muddy streak marking our path of destruction. The world was inverted, turned upside down and even though I didn’t see you hit your head, blood was pouring out of you like the rain pouring out of the sky. Whether from the cocktails or the concussion, my hands fumbled over the strap of the seatbelt as I trembled like a mad dog trying to get to you.
It had felt like we were in a dream. It had felt like we were in a dream, but we were in a nightmare. It was a nightmare. A nightmare where I was staring helplessly at your bloodied face, bruises already flowering on your cheekbones, far worse than the scrapes we earned ourselves as children. You were still so beautiful.

I looked away for a moment, just for a moment, to free myself, and I heard a weak breath rattle your bones like an earthquake. I looked back at you and I swear to god my heart stopped beating at that moment and never resumed.

There was no rise and fall in your chest, no spark in your eyes. How did this happen? I thought. How did this happen? No. No, no, no, this is wrong, this is all wrong. I saw you, just a minute ago, as we were flying through the air just seconds before. Did I see fear? Yes. Confusion? Yes. But goddamn it, I saw life, too. It can’t happen that fast, it can’t, it just can’t. There has to be more, you can’t just be gone.

I felt my stomach twining itself into knots, like my intestines could sense what was happening, and were hugging each other tight for support.

I watched you until the cops came, waiting for the fire in your eyes to rekindle, gazing into them like I used to, but it wasn’t the same. The only light in your eyes was the emergency lights reflecting back out of your glassy stare.

When I look back, I wonder who called them. I don’t remember another car going by. I certainly didn’t call them. Dialing 911 would have implied I still had a will to live. I’d had injuries of my own; gashes, lacerations. Could have been bad enough to be life threatening. And even if those couldn’t kill me, my heart still hadn’t started beating again. Surely that should have killed me . . . right?

But instead, a thick set of arms pried me out of the driver’s seat. I stared blankly into a featureless face and felt something hard against my hip. Probably his gun. I added that to the list of things that could kill me.

They draped something over me, a shock blanket, I think. But I was not in shock. I knew exactly what I wanted.

I wanted to die.

I didn’t want to be poked and prodded and checked for vital signs. I didn’t want to watch the ambulance arrive in a blaze of flashing lights. I didn’t want to watch more shadowy figures shake rain drops from their hair as they pulled your limp body from the car. And most of all, I didn’t want to hear them pronounce you dead on the scene at 3:46 on a stormy Tuesday morning.


The funeral was exactly a week later. I entered the cemetery through a wrought iron gate that loomed over my head, casting its shadow accusingly in my direction. I kept my head down, suspecting—knowing—that the burning on the back of my neck was a result of hateful, accusing stares from your relatives. Not that I blamed them. I hated me, too. The guilt and self-hatred had snaked their way up my legs, twisting up to my chest. They constricted, wrenching the air from my lungs and choking me. That is, until they began digging, further, further, into my chest until they began tearing at my heart with razor sharp claws. They shredded and tore and slashed until there was a hollow cavity where my heart had once lain and I was empty.

I stayed for the whole service, ignoring the hisses and guarded whispers that floated toward me like smoke on the breeze. When everything was over I walked toward the entrance alone in a sea of weeping strangers. Snippets of their conversations reached my ears, some solemn, some awkward, some just nonsense small talk. One shaking elderly voice remarked on the unseasonable warmth of the day, the uncanny brightness of the sun. I didn’t know what she was talking about. I could’ve sworn it was raining.


The wooden seat of my chair was hard and unforgiving on a Monday morning some weeks later. I listened without hearing to the deep murmur of the suited man before me. I caught fragments of his argument as I avoided your family’s eyes. To meet their gaze would just be wrong. I was foolish and irresponsible, except that I was responsible. For taking their daughter away from them. At least that’s what the man said. I lost myself in the emptiness again, until the banging gavel brought me back to reality. I was ushered from the courtroom without even knowing my own fate.

I slept at my parents’ house that night, and the next day, my last day as a free man, I woke up just as the sun was peeking over the horizon. I slipped out of the house, leaving my parents slumbering soundly beside each other. I set off down the road with no particular destination in mind. With every step the rain fell harder and faster, as if the sky was weeping for me, for my freedom, for your memory. I arrived back home slippery and soaked to the bone, but no one seemed to notice. I didn’t bother drying off.


Time passes differently now. So slowly that every minute stretches into days and months. It was suggested to me that I take to writing, that maybe writing it all down would help me process my feelings. It took days, or maybe years, of glancing at empty pages before I finally gave in, but I suppose I have to fill the hours somehow. I start writing, and every few words I find myself glancing at the ceiling, hearing the pitter patter of tiny raindrops falling overhead. My cellmates can’t hear it. I wonder if you hate me, wherever you are now. The rain falls harder and I wonder what day it is, but I already know. It always rains on Tuesday.








About the Author
Kaleigh Longe is a student at Bridgewater State University. She has previously been published in The Bridge Journal and The Zetetic Record. When she's not writing, chances are she's in the kitchen baking something amazing, playing Star Wars Battlefront or asking random people to buy her a dog.
Here is a link to her online writing blog:


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