Ted struck a match and held it up. The glow of the flame bounced off his glasses, illuminating his pointy nose. He flicked the match into the night. When its ember died out, he lit another one.
Dinah tried her phone one more time but it wouldn’t turn on anymore. She kicked the tire and swore.
“That won’t fix it.” Ted didn’t look at her. Just kept his position on the hood of the car.
Dinah threw her heels at him. He hopped down and grabbed her by the arm, pinning her against the passenger door. He felt her heart pound against him. “You need to chill out.” He poked a finger at her chest, then pushed off her and hopped back onto the car.
Dinah huffed and picked up her heels. She felt stones poke through her nylons. She hated that expression. Chill out. It was abusive; his actions and words were abusive.
“You could do something,” she pleaded. Her blood boiled. She hated him, she absolutely hated him. She got close enough to see if he reacted. “Are you listening to me?”
He took his glasses off and rubbed his eyes. She knew he wouldn’t say more. She went to the road and stared into the emptiness. It was so dark there could have been anything out there. She thought for a second that something could be right at her shoulder and she shivered with fear. But she was too angry to let it linger. She didn’t pick this route. She didn’t even know what road they were on.
Into her misery came a bright light that quickly disappeared. She squinted and saw it again; then the light brightened, then dimmed, then disappeared. It rounded the final bend. She waved her arms wildly, stepping out into the vehicle’s lights. It screamed to a stop in front of her and she ran to the unrolled passenger window. She peered in and smiled at the pretty blonde driver.
“Hi. Sorry. Thanks for stopping. We think some kids must have slashed our tire or something. It’s been a pretty slow burn the whole trip. We’ve been out here for hours now, I swear, hours, and we don’t have a spare.” Dinah caught sight of the dashboard clock and felt sick. It was two in the morning. She wondered if anyone even missed her at the banquet.
“Get in,” the driver said. “I don’t have a spare but we can get some help.”
Dinah turned to Ted. She almost invited him but instead said, “I’m leaving.”
Ted looked over and shrugged, didn’t get up. Dinah got in and slammed the door. She turned to the driver with a relieved smile as they drove away. “Thank you so much.” She squeezed her sore feet into her heels. “I was afraid I’d have to sleep out there. My phone isn’t working and we usually have a car charger but for some reason my bonehead fiancé took it out this morning.”
“It’s no problem at all,” the blonde said. “You know this isn’t a road, right? It’s a driveway.”
“What? He turned into a driveway?”
The blonde nodded. “Yep, another few minutes you get to an old farm house.”
“We should probably turn around, then.”
“When are you getting married?”
“September, if ever.” Dinah messed with her phone, punching it into the palm of her hand. “Shouldn’t we turn around?”
“No, this is where we’ve been going.”
Dinah looked over at her and the driver gave her a curious smirk. Dinah’s stomach lurched.
“You don’t remember me, do you, Dinah?”
Ted’s phone buzzed half an hour later. The voice on the line was quiet. “It’s done,” she said.
“Did you love her?”
Suddenly he was very tired. He opened the trunk. “Does that bother you?”
“Of course not.”
“I’ll contact you soon.” He hung up and took a bag of clothes and a metal container from the trunk. He threw his phone onto the backseat and scattered the clothes around the interior, then doused everything with gas from the container. There was one match left; he lit it and tossed it into the back seat. He headed down the winding path with plenty of light from the flames.
Desiree Wilkins lives near Philadelphia with her husband and their son. Her fiction has appeared in the print literary magazine Happy and online at First Stop Fiction and Cleaver.