by Nicole Misha Campbell
It’s a Saturday. I’m half-dressed, standing above my bed. My room is lit by the sun roof and the rainbow-colored walls. I’m plucking my belongings from every corner of my room. Packing.
I stuff my things into my huge pocket book. Shirts. Deodorant. My journal. My copy of cypress sassafrass and indigo that I’ve reread the same three chapters of four times and always forget where I left off. I slide into my new pair of jeans..
They’re always the same Black Highwaters, and once I’ve split them from a night of dancing, it’s time to get a new pair. Of the same pants. I know what I like.
I put on an old parchment-colored t shirt. I look good. Too good to just be going to my parents’ house. I carry the bags I’ve packed down the stairs. Grab the cup of coffee I’ve made in preparation for my two-hour road trip home. As my housemate says, driving from carrboro to concord is like driving down a tube. And I need to make my own stimuli.
I throw my bags into my yellow dodge neon. I pull out of my gravel driveway, carefully winding around my housemates’ and their various lovers’ cars.
Kendrick Lamar’s latest album is the chosen soundtrack for December’s trip home. good kid m.a.a.d. city.
I begin my drive down Jones Ferry, and pull into the Food Lion about five minutes from my house. My phone buzzes in my back pocket. It’s my partner. He hasn’t called me in about five days. and he’s asking me to hang out. I roll my eyes so far into the back of my head I’m surprised they didn’t get lost there. I tell him I’m leaving town and I’ll be back soon. He responds with some sad faces. Another slow motion eye roll commences. I get out of my car and strut down the food lion parking lot. Make no eye contact with anyone in the store. head directly to the produce section. Grab the biggest granny smith apple in the pile, and walk back to the self check-out. I scan the apple and leave the store. I get into my car, text my parents I’m on my way. And now I’m finally off.
I turn the cd up loud. I love Kendrick Lamar. maybe I’m not supposed to love him this much. I do my “sassy music video face” when “bitch don’t kill my vibe” plays, and then I crush into my apple. And chewing, I rap along
I can feel the changes
I can feel the new people round me just wanna be famous
I swerve down NC54. I rap to the greenery around me. I rap to the tire places, and the sad folk art lining the street. Fuck carrboro.
The next track is Backseat Freestyle. I drop my apple core into the cupholder. My hands are sticky from the juice. I speed up. I rap harder.
I roll through syllables and this narrow tar road.
Up on the horizon, I see a car passing me. It’s the only car I’ve seen for miles. It’s goin pretty fast. Running from something. I slow down a bit.
I see a maroon mini van peer behind the runaway car. And the car starts to turn. I think to myself, that the car’s tryna pass the runaway car, but didn’t see me in the lane facing it. So it’ll slow down. Once they realize. I smirk to myself, “They just don’t realize.” But it doesn’t. I slow down. I swerve. But there’s no shoulder. And she still doesn’t realize.
And I don’t realize. And then it all goes quiet.
It is a Saturday. I wake up painted with shards of glass and a saggy airbag.
My car is a stained glass portrait of itself. Holy, painted with bursts of yellow, and covered in the blood of me.
I haven’t figured out where it’s coming from yet.
I open my eyes trying to take in the self portrait. I want to go back to sleep. This is like one of those violent lucid dreams I’m okay with having. It’s okay if I die, because I know I’ll wake up.