Passenger Seat by Stephen Speaks:
And as we go I see the lights
Watch them glimmer in her eyes
In the darkness of the evening
We stop to get something to drink
My mind clouds and I can’t think
Scared to death to say i love her
Then a moon peeks from the clouds
Hear my heart that beats so loud
Try to tell her simply
Phyllis stared down the dark road. There was something rather disturbing about being so vulnerable. She was used to being the one in control and tonight, she was anything but–broken down on the side of a deserted road. Much as she hated to admit it, she didn’t like being here alone. The silence made her uneasy.
The light of Billy’s motorcycle was nothing short of heaven sent. She got out of the car quickly, meeting him before he even made it off the bike.
“You ok?” He asked, noting her rattled countenance. He knew her far better than she liked to admit and this was nothing like the clam, collected Phyllis that typically showed up.
“Yeah, of course. I just…it’s dark out here and it’s really quiet.” She shrugged, now feeling a little silly. “It’s creepy,” she admitted, looking away from him, embarrassed of her own limitations.
“You don’t have anything to worry about.” He reached out, touching her shoulder lightly. “I’m back and I’ll protect you from the rabid raccoons and bobcats and the would be axe murderers that might be hiding in these woods.”
Her eyes widened and she heard him laugh. “That’s not funny. You don’t know what could be in there. If someone escaped from prison or something, that’s exactly where they’d go…it’s like the perfect scene from a horror movie.”
“Well if it’s in a horror movie, it must be true.”
“You know if you’re just gonna make fun of me,” She turned her back to him.
“I can go if you want.”
“No,” she said quickly, turning back around to face him. “I don’t want you to go.” She looked down at her hands, realizing for the first time that they were tightly clasped around his.
He sighed. “I’m not gonna leave you here.”
His voice was so earnest, his face unable to be really seen in the darkness, but easy for her to imagine. The last few weeks she’d been so dedicated to trying to make Jack see how sorry she was that she’d been determined to stay away from Billy completely.
Without seeing him, it had been easier to keep the thoughts of him out of her mind. She didn’t continually dream about the days she’d spent with him, but tonight, after seeing him again, she realized she was no closer to being over him than she had been the second she’d stepped out of his arms.
Billy watched her face as she stared at him. Shadows danced across her cheeks as the moon drifted behind a cloud. “You ready to eat?”
She nodded. “Did you call the tow?”
“Yeah, its just gonna take a while.”
He couldn’t pretend to be upset that he had a chance to spend some time alone with her. The fact that she was without an escape plan was an added bonus.
“Why don’t you pop the hatchback?” He said softly, walking over to his bike to retrieve the food.
“Unless you’d rather eat on the ground.”
“Oh,” she felt her cheeks flush with redness and she was suddenly very thankful for the discretion the dark of night provided.
She reached inside the car and pressed the button to release the hatchback. She watched as Billy walked around back and climbed inside. He heard his hand out to her and she stepped up and sat inside.
Her eyes narrowed as she studied the bucket.
The interior lights now cast dim lights on them. “Is that fried chicken?”
“Of course it’s fried chicken..haven’t you ever been tailgating? You eat chicken wings and drink beer. I would have brought beer but people are weird about ordering beer at a drive thru for some reason.”
Phyllis laughed. “I can’t imagine why.”
“So, we’ll have to deal with bottled water,” he sighed, “An affront to tailgaters everywhere.” He smiled at her. “So beautiful, how long’s it been since you’ve been to a proper tailgating?”
She opened the water bottle before taking a sip and gingerly taking the chicken wing he handed her. “Uh…”.
“Do not tell me…”. Billy clutched at his chest, “Seriously? You’ve never gone tailgating?”
“I don’t think so,” she giggled. “I’m not entirely sure of what that entails.”
Billy groaned, leaning back. “You’re killing me here. Tailgating is an American tradition–you sit out before a game and eat and talk, listen to the pregame…”.
Phyllis listened. “So why not just wait til you get to the real game? Don’t they have food in there?”
“Sure they do, but you tailgate for the experience…for fun.” Billy watched her, amused by her quizzical expression.
“Okay,” she said quietly, still holding her chicken wing in her fingertips.
“You gonna eat that?” He asked as he pulled another chicken wing from the bucket and brought it to his mouth.
“Yeah, I was just looking for a fork.”
“A fork? Phyllis–you do not eat chicken wings with a fork. That’s like eating pizza with a knife and fork.”
She said nothing.
“You use a knife and fork for pizza?”
“Maybe?” She said, only slightly defensive. “What’s wrong with that?” She smiled at him as she watched his face change.
“Nothing, M’Lady. I just never realized the caliber of my dining companion.” He took the chicken wing from her hand, pulling the chicken from the bone.
“Billy,” she laughed, “you don’t have to feed me. I’m perfectly…”.
Billy tossed the bit of chicken into her mouth and laughed as she started to chew. “See….isn’t that good?”
He smiled brightly as she giggled in return. “Yes, ok. Yes, it’s good.” She took the rest of the chicken wing from him, bringing it to her mouth and taking a bit.
“See,” he smirked, “I knew you could do it. That’s really sexy by the way.”
Phyllis pulled her legs up underneath her as she got more comfortable. “Well, who knew all I needed to be sexy was some chicken wings,” she said with a smile as she wiped her hands on the napkin.
“Trust me, you don’t need anything.”
There was silence between them for a moment. Time after time he was presented with this reality–the fact that without her his life was incomplete. He watched her, the moon casting shadows through the window as the interior light cast a soft glow across her face. She was beautiful as she sat there..no matter what she said, no matter what she did. She was his everything. He’d known it from the beginning and he’d told her as much. Now, as he watched her eyes staring back at him, he wondered if she was starting to believe him.
There was so much he wanted to say to her, but he was afraid of saying too much..of pushing too hard–too far, but if not now, when?
She looked up at him, her green eyes glistening in the moonlight.
He searched her expression, wondering if she was going to push him away again.
“I know you may not want to hear this but I need to say it. Regardless of what you do, where you go, who you’re with, you’re still it for me. I love you, Phyllis. I always will.”
She opened her mouth, her eyes full of expression, but he couldn’t tell what the expression meant.
“Wait,” Billy said, cutting her off. “Just don’t say anything. Please…don’t say anything at all.”
Phyllis looked at him, the look in her eyes now more clear. She reached out, her hand finding his in the dark. She touched him, his skin warm as his fingers laced through hers. Moving closer to him, she let her back lean against his chest, grateful when she felt his arms wrap around her. Not a word was said.
This time, the silence was nice.