Brent drives towards the hotel. Chips and alcohol sit next to him in the passenger seat. A grin planted on his face.
His daughter had called him. Violet had called him. She’d asked for his help.
He can’t help, but smile ear to ear. He raises the music and sings off-key along to the radio. The windows are rolled down and the breeze blows his hair back. Water mist sprays on his face as the trickle of rain finds its way through the window, but he leaves them wide open.
Violets number shines on the display. He clicks a button on the dashboard.
There’s silence on the other side.
He hears a swallow.
“Stay away from our daughter, Brent.”
Wide eyed, his grin fades to astonishment. “Lynn?”
“Just stay away.”
The phone clicks off.
Just watch the car go. Go faster and faster. Foot to the acceleration on a one way highway. The high way we all ride. On. Off. On. Off. Life. Death. Brent blinks back the blinding tears. Watches road signs. Their smears of green. The words are foreign blurs. He counts the seconds.
In a place he’s never been to, a child, he’s never met, dies.
Just stay away from his daughter. HIS daughter. He shakes his head. His knuckles are white on the steering wheel and he can feel himself shaking.
He hits the acceleration. The car whines in protest. The dials spin to the red and lights like warning signs flash in his brain.
A flash of pink bolts in front of the car. He slams on the break. Tires squeal. Red riding hood’s little fuchsia sister blinks ocean blue eyes. He can see every line in the iris. Every yellow blond hair on her head. Every freckle.
The car spins. Every thing goes black as it goes for the ditch. Crunch. Snap.
Roll, roll, rolling. Until the car comes to rest at the top of the ditch by the fence. Brent lets out a breath. The car’s second of break is done and it rolls back down the hill to the bottom of the ditch. With his eyes closed, he can still see the pink waving in the wind like a cape or a flag. Then the darkness swallows the pink in the hick-up of red. Until the crimson too fades to black.
Brent blinks open his eyes.
He coughs and reaches for the cell stowed away in the glove box.
Everything aches. Everything hurts. His limbs feels like they’re coated in lead. The joints are hazy in their response and just lifting his arm feels like a feat worthy of knighthood.
He bites his tongue against the pain and strains to reach, to click the button, to make the glove box door fall open.
His eyes blink shut, and when he opens them again it seems minutes has passed. The door lies open. The phone does a jig vibrating and singing on top of the car manual and insurance. Leaning further over until muscles strain and pull apart, until he can lay a finger on the cell.
Just one finger.
He pulls the phone towards him a centimeter at a time. Wrapping his hand around it. Cradles it in his palm. The phone stops its dance as he eases back into his chair.
Brent blinks, ignores the pain in both legs. The dampness of his clothing. The heaviness in his body. His eyes flutter shut again.
Brent flips the cell open. Coughs and puts it up to his ear. “Hello?”