Shut Up and Drive
“Memories can warm your insides. But they can also rip you inside.” - Haruki Murakami in Kafka by the Sea.
With trembling fingers, I took a deep breath so as not to have a heart attack from such intimate yet so simple contact.
He suggested we take his car and drive me to my house. At first, I was a step back, you know? For a girl from the suburbs, hitchhiking with strangers like this, out of nowhere, was a complete death certificate.
I accepted, however, thinking of having to be alone at that station.
Miguel didn’t let go of my hand as we crossed the Central, but remained without a word or looking at me, even at a glance. That was killing me!
- Look ... You want’a know? - I freeze our steps, making his eyes meet mine. - I think I better go alone.
“The car is right there ...” His smile lit up the darkness. - I swear you’re safe.
“And how could I believe you?” I tried to raise my eyebrow, unsuccessfully. Crappy motor coordination from the seven hells!
- You can’t, but you must. Have greater confidence in the performance of a man who expects a great reward than the one who has received it. - And there it was again, trapped in those beautiful lips: the mischievous alabaster smile.
To my surprise, when we got to the vehicle, it was not a Yellow Camaro or the latest model of the fashionable cars, but a genuine black Cadillac Eldorado, square but shiny and well restored. Instinctively, I stuck my nose to the glass, still outside, almost drooling over that vintage dashboard, the slender steering wheel and the beige leather seats.
Miguel let out his second laugh of the night, not as loud as the first.
- Do you like cars? - He asked.
- Do you like food? - The sarcasm was evident, but I kept a mocking smile at the corner of my mouth.
- I like you.
I choked and almost spit my lunch out on that immaculate bodywork. Before I could answer or even face him, the boy put his arm behind my waist and his body fell over mine delicately. I could smell a woody scent coming from the collar of his shirt as my forehead barely brushed his neck.
I closed my eyes, waiting for anything to happen. My heart racing like a bunch of wild horses, rampant and raging.
Then a loud click sounded, bringing my attention back to reality. Miguel had just opened the car door for me, and his victorious look turned those beautiful sapphires into a trophy of those who had just fooled his prey.
I was stuck between punching that perfect little face or filling it with kisses.
As soon as I sat down, he went over, crossed his seat belt, and waited until I did the same - which was pretty annoying - before he started the car.
His movements were agile, and though his eyes remained steady on the road, now and then Miguel inclined his head toward me, only watching tenderly. We stayed like that, in silence, all the way to the South Zone.
My hands sweated with nervousness as he asked if I lived on those streets in Botafogo, and all I could do was shake my head.
- I live in Copa. - The voice shook, but I tried to sound natural in saying that.
- Cool ... I was born in Recreio, but I’m living in Leblon, for now. My grandfather left this apartment when he died and it was closer for me to attend the Saint’s Domingos de Gusmão College. - Another period of quietness followed after that. I simply curled the black curls with my fingers as I enjoyed that rare moment in a car that smelled of richness without losing its style.
Miguel really was a different boy.
“You don’t look like the boys over there.”
“You mean rich and spoiled and full of mad stuff?” Even without looking at him, I could note the laughter in his voice. - You’re wrong, I’m just like that. Don’t let the tattoos trick you...
- What kind of catholic institute’s guy has so many? - Without thinking much, my fingers acted as if on their own, leaving my messy strands and following the narrow path to the exposed part of his arm. The white porcelain skin gleamed against the light of the moon and the streetlamps outside. I felt his hair prickle at the touch as he let out a dangerously deep breath.
- I like this music. - He said, pulling my contact away from him as he turned up the radio. Then I realized it was almost halfway through a Shawn Mendes song. Not that it was my style, and I didn’t think it was his, either, though it seemed like it was just an attempt to ignore me.
I lost myself in that cheerful melody, embarrassed by the sudden withdrawal.
I began to remember the confusing moments of that night: Claudio’s invitation, his intimacies with the beautiful stranger in the bar, the jealousy he had when he saw me with Miguel ...
Miguel ... What a strange guy ...
“Do you know what you told me before we got in the car? About trusting the performance of a man who expects to have a big reward and all?”
“Ah, that’s a quote from Thomas Atkinson, you know?”
I shrugged, pretending to be more interested in the streets that passed like frantic lights through the glass around us. This did not discourage him.
- He was a very talented British artist and architect ... I pretend to be like him one day.
- We have arrived. - I warned him when we got to the AV. Atlântica, right in front of the dark sea of Copacabana. Though I didn’t respond to what he said, my chest ached to know that, most likely, that boy’s dreams were not just dreams, but a genuine probability.
It was very different from the reality I had.
“Are you going to say you live at the beach?” Despite the laughing tone, he looked worried.
- No, silly. I live in the back street, but I still don’t want you to know where.
“Okay ...” It was an automatic and visibly offended response.