Logan drove his Yukon as if steel through the chest were not a possible outcome. Even when the prospect of a gruesome death had been offered up (it had several times in dummy drunk driving demos on campus), he had felt exceptional, like mourning a death was a consequence he could never suffer. In fact, in his twenty-one years of life, he had not yet mourned a death, so he pursued his goals bumper-to-bumper, even in open highway, a feather-haired buck in aviators reflected in rearview mirrors, all prohibitions fictions. He tapped his fingers on the steering wheel, tailgating an old Nissan that flashed its blinker and waited for an opening in the less agitated lane. He was on his way to this-girl-he’d-been-seeing’s apartment; she had texted him that she had a surprise for him.
Probably meaning oral. Or sex. Or homemade cookies. Or a Yeti cooler from her dad’s outdoor shop. Possibly everything. He loved everything.
Logan answered his phone and accelerated his Yukon into open highway. His best friend, Hinton, said, We’re going to Roundabout tonight for two-for-ones. We’re going to get shitty—shitty-fuck-faced-totally-fucked shitty. Logan said, I might be late. Logan said, On my way to this-girl-I’ve-been-seeing’s place, you know the one I’ve told you about. She texted me to come over for a surprise. Fucking yeah, dude. Bring her with you when you’re done. Maybe. I might want to get after some other girls tonight, said Logan. I’m feeling it. Logan got stuck behind another cluster of traffic. Fucking people, he said. Fucking just drive your fucking car. It’s not fucking hard.
Logan drove his Yukon as if he had no children in the back seat, and because of this-girl-he’d-been-seeing’s surprise that she was pregnant with his child and getting an abortion, he would not have children in the back seat for the foreseeable future. Logan sat on the edge of this-girl-he’d-been-seeing, McKenzie’s, bed and stared at a stiff red nail polish stain on the carpet. McKenzie, he said, I know we’re just—we’ve just been—but—
McKenzie said, I don’t want it. McKenzie said, I’ve already thought about it. Logan said, But, maybe, don’t we have something here? McKenzie said, What? Logan said, But, like, the other night when we were watching Netflix in your bed, don’t you think that was something? McKenzie said, Like something what? Do you mean love?
Logan said no, but he meant yes. He said a lot. Logan said he guessed it was for the best. If you don’t want a kid from me, he said, then I guess we’ll pretend like it never happened. What if I said I loved you? You’re not listening to me. If you don’t want to start a life with me, then whatever. You didn’t feel something watching Netflix? Wasn’t that something? I want the baby. I think we should have the baby, don’t you? I can’t believe you don’t. I can’t believe you don’t love me. I can’t believe this is happening to me. I think we should still see each other. Maybe we should take a break. Even though you’re doing this, I think we can make this work. I think I felt something watching Netflix. Logan’s lips quivered. Logan cried. Logan couldn’t pick up his hanging head. He couldn’t keep from staring at the red stain on the carpet. He thought if he stayed on the edge of the bed long enough, he would hear what he wanted to hear. He was hurting and not used to hurting. He was not used to having no say.
McKenzie sat next to Logan at the edge of her bed and placed a hand on his thigh. McKenzie was calm. She was only sorry for telling him it was a surprise. She told him she was scared and didn’t want to scare him away before the news.
Logan said, You shouldn’t have done that. I know, and I’m sorry, McKenzie said. Logan lifted his head and thought McKenzie was beautiful in the way his mother was. He thought she was really smart and maybe that was what he liked most about her. He had never told her he thought she was smart. It had never occurred to him to tell her that. It would be lost on her now.
She suddenly seemed much older than him.
Her hand was on his khaki shorts, and he wished the tip of her finger would move to his skin. Then he realized this was also a breakup. Or were they ever together? He was too embarrassed to ask. He thought he might cry harder at the answer. Can I stay here tonight? Logan said.
No. Just no? No, Logan. Will we see each other anymore? I don’t think we’re on the same page.
Everything about Roundabout was loud. Everyone was happy and yelling and carrying two drinks. Hinton said, Decided not to bring that girl, huh?
McKenzie, Logan said. What about her? Hinton said, pointing toward the back of a girl at the bar.
Logan wanted to tell Hinton about McKenzie and how smart she was and how he loved her but didn’t know it until today, and how she was getting an abortion and didn’t want him to drive her and didn’t want to see him anymore. He wanted to cry in front of his best friend, and he wanted his best friend to hug him and tell him he was sorry and drive them home where they could talk and drink and where he didn’t have to be alone. Hinton, Logan said, and he stared at his best friend, hoping his best friend could see everything inside him and act accordingly. But Hinton didn’t see it. Instead, Hinton pushed harder. Hinton said, nodding toward the girl at the bar, If you don’t want her, then I’m going to talk to her. Do you want her? Man, this is the life, Logan, he said, looking around the bar. Have everything. Have it all.
About the Author: Joe Lucido is an MFA candidate at the University of Alabama, where he serves as prose editor for Black Warrior Review. His stories appear or are forthcoming in Whiskey Island, Booth, Word Riot, decomP, SmokeLong Quarterly, and others. He grew up in the suburbs of St. Louis, MO. He occasionally tweets nonsense (@JosephLucido).
Story Song: "I Don’t Want You Anymore" by Luke Roberts
Photo Credit: Leesa Cross-Smith