As he drove, his hands clenched tighter on the wheel, his feet pushing harder down onto the pedals. Sixty, seventy, eighty. His very own white knuckle ride. Ninety, a hundred, a hundred and ten. Sweat pooled at the base of his spine, seeping through his linen shorts. Could he really do this? Why not? Now he had nothing to lose. One hundred and twenty, thirty…STOP. Feet slamming on brakes, autopilot mode engaged. Swerving, nearly not quite hitting. Her. Standing in the middle of the road. Wearing just a cotton sundress. Carrying a rose. The car span around and around, almost not quite tipping. Silence spun a web around him. Finally, finally the car came to a halt, nosing the shrubbery at the side of the highway.
He coughed. Shifted in his seat. Lifted one hand, then the other. Patted himself down. No obvious sign of damage. Cuts and grazes at most. Surely a miracle. If he believed in them.
She was beside the car now. Porcelain skin, fair hair, eyes wide with shock. “Hey, are you okay?” Biting her lip. Standing girlish.
“Fine,” he said, as if this was quite normal. “You?”
“Fine,” she said, a tremor in her voice. “I’m sorry, that was my fault. I could have killed you.”
He smiled. “I could have killed myself.”
He climbed out of the car. They stood a while in sun-soaked silence as the tarmac baked beside them.
“Where you heading?” he asked.
She looked down at the rose cupped in her hand. “Anywhere,” she said. She raised her head; blinked away tears.”You?”
A current of knowing flowed between them. He broke it to observe the car. “It doesn’t look so bad. I think I can fix it.”
She sat down on the bare earth and watched him as he worked. From time to time he cast a sideways glance, noticing her bare feet. Slim wrists. The tattoo on her ankle.
When he was done, he closed the bonnet, slid into the driver’s seat and tested the engine. It sputtered into life. He looked at her. “Lift?” She smiled, torch-eyed. Climbed into the car beside him. As he pulled onto the road he paused. “Your rose,” he said, pointing to the dusty patch of earth on which it lay.
“I don’t need it,” she said with a shrug. “Not anymore.”
He put his foot down on the pedal. And drove.
Written in response to the Creative Writing Ink photo prompt 20th October 2016