The End of the Road
“Do you ever think about telling them? About how you really feel?”
The car ride had been in silence for a while. Ella had passively looked out of the window at the passing city. There was a strange kind of beauty to it; devoid of people in these early hours, she wondered what it would be like to live a nocturnal life, to live in the darkness and to be isolated from society; to know only the homeless, the night workers and the people everyone else likes to pretend do not exist. Del’s sudden question snapped her out of her contemplations.
“Tell my parents?” she questioned, “About how I feel about them?”
“Yeah. About how they make you feel.”
“No. No!” Ella said with a frown. “I couldn’t do that. I mean… I… what…I, I don’t even know how I feel about them.” she eventually managed to say. “I don’t know how I feel.” she repeated, more to herself than to Del.
“I think you’re angry.” said Del. “Angry and sad.”
“What?! No. I’m not angry; not angry at them.” Ella replied, but her voice unwittingly lacked conviction. “My parents are good. They’re not evil or anything, they don’t beat me!”
“Uh, huh.” said Del, pushing Ella to say more.
“Look, I get that they’re busy. They’ve got big jobs and we have a big house and all that. And of course, you know, my brothers…”
Ella paused. She turned her head back toward the window. The office blocks and neon lights were behind them now, the city morphing into suburb. It seemed apropos that they were coming into her neighbourhood as they were talking about her family.
“My brothers set a high standard for being good kids - they’re nice, determined, dedicated, successful. All round superstars. I can’t live up to that standard. I tried and I could see the disappointment in their eyes when I didn’t win the dance competition, or make the A team in soccer. So it’s my fault really. I guess I stopped trying and they see that. Now I just do stuff to push their buttons if I want their attention. So now I’m ‘the difficult one’ and I suppose, yeah I can be. But mostly I just let them be and deal with shit on my own.”
She closed her eyes and let her head fall back into the headrest. Suddenly the night was catching up with her and she felt tired.
“Do stuff to push their buttons, eh?” said Del, “Like storming off on your own into the city late at night?”
“Yeah. Any normal girl would have just gone home, run upstairs to her bed and cried in her pillow!” said Ella with a sardonic grin as she opened her eyes and looked over at Del.
“Well, I’m glad you didn’t do that.” said Del and he looked at her and smiled a wide smile. “You know, I really haven’t told too many people about my Dad and all that stuff we talked about earlier. It feels good to talk to someone about it. To talk to you.” he paused, unconsciously hoping he hadn’t said too much. He wasn’t ready yet to admit to himself that he liked this girl. “You’ve made quite an impression Miss Snow White.” he followed up with, teasing her.
Ella just smiled. Her mind was foggy it seemed. She wanted to say something, but wasn’t sure what. She felt suddenly hot. Was she blushing? She turned away again and looked lazily out of the window.
“Hey, my house is just a few blocks from here.” she said “Right at the stop sign coming up and then about half a mile and a left, then we’re at the end of the road.”
“Cool.” said Del. “I was just about to ask where exactly your street was. You won’t be surprised to learn that I don’t know this neighbourhood too well.”
“Lol. Yeah, you’d kinda stick out a bit here.”
“You should think about it Ella. About talking to your parents more. Before something happens to them, or to you and you can’t anymore. There’s lots I wish I’d told my Dad, but just kept silent, thinking I was doing us both a favour.”
“Hmmm. You’re probably right.” said Ella. “I’m not sure I’d know where to start. They’d probably be so surprised they’d think I was up to something. Some kind of scheme… Lol.”
“Hah, yeah, maybe. But you never know… And believe me, if you keep it in, if you bottle it up, those emotions grow and they can break out, cause real issues. You pass over that point where you could talk, but you don’t and then it’s too late and you’re on the other side of that, with just anger and resentment and pain, and that comes out eventually.”
“Listen, what do you know? You don’t know my family! You don’t know me!” Ella snapped back. “Why are you being so nice to me? Why do you care what’s going on with me? What makes you think you can tell me what to do…?”
Her voice trailed off as she finished the sentence, realising her sudden anger and seeing the look of shock on Del’s face. “Sorry, sorry.” she immediately implored and she put one hand on Del’s shoulder and the other grabbed his thigh. “Sorry.” she said again. “I didn’t mean that to sound so…”
“Bitchy?” Del suggested.
“Yeah. Bitchy.” Ella agreed. “That’s me, bitchy. I can’t help it, see. That’s what my parents get…”
“It’s ok Ella.” Del said tenderly. “It’s been a long night. I think we need to get you home and into bed.”
“What?! You wanna get me into bed!?? I knew it, you pervert!!” Ella exclaimed.
“Er, what? No! Er, no, that’s not what I, er meant…” shrieked Del not noticing the huge grin on Ella’s face. “I mean, I like you, you know, but, you’re… you need sleep, that’s what I meant. Sleep, you’re tired. Not that. Not what you… that would be… no…”
Ella couldn’t resist pushing it further. “Oh, wait. So what you don’t want to get me into bed? What are you saying? I’m not good enough for you? You don’t think I’m pretty?”
Whatever tiredness Ella had felt evaporated as she revelled in Del’s floundering.
“Nooooo! No. You’re super pretty. I mean, you’re gorgeous, but, you know, we couldn’t. We…”
He finally couldn’t help but notice Ella practically rolling around the floor of the car laughing so hard.
“Aargh! You, you… Urrgh!! That’s not funny.” he finally managed to get out. And he smacked Ellas upper arm playfully.
“Oh it was. It was. Toooooo funny!” said Ella. And she gave him a shove back in response to the smack. Del reached out and put his arm around Ella’s shoulder drawing him in toward her.
“Aaah. Ella. What am I going to do with you? I fear you have wormed your way into my brain. Not sure I’m going to be able to just dump you at your door and drive off into the sunset.”
“Sunrise.” said Ella, still almost chuckling as she said it. She leaned into him. “I’d like to…”
“Fuck!! Fuck. Shit!!!” exclaimed Del, cutting Ella off mid-sentence and pushing her away. “Stop, shush.”
“What? What’s wrong Del, I don’t understand?”
“Shush. Quiet. Just sit still and let me do all the talking.”
“Talking? What…oh. Shit!” said Ella, suddenly noticing the red and blue flashing lights reflected in the windows. “Shit!” she said again.
Del reached over and opened up the glove box, quickly sliding something into it and closing it again. He was so swift he must have done it on many occasions before. Ella didn’t get a good look at it, but she was pretty sure she knew what it was.
“Was that a gun?” she whispered. “You had a gun this whole time???”
“Shut up!” said Del, now looking very stressed. “No, definitely not a gun. Do not say anything! This is serious.” he whispered strongly.
“Out of the car.” The officer’s voice boomed unnecessarily loudly in the peaceful early-morning street.
“Out of the car. Now. Hands on your head!”
“OK, ok, I’m getting out, don’t shoot!” said Del. And he slowly opened the car door.
Ella sank back into her seat as Del got out. She wanted to make herself as small as possible, to slowly melt into the seat and disappear.
“Down, on the ground! Face down hands behind your head!!” yelled the officer. Del disappeared out of Ella’s view, replaced slowly by the officer, arms outstretched, gun in hand pointing down at the ground.
“Is there a problem officer?” Del said politely.
“Shut the Fuck up!! I’m talking.” the officer barked.