Authors: Colleen Hoover
I’m not doing well. Not at all. I want to tell him that, but the only thing that comes out of my mouth is, “I don’t want to be here.” I’m not asking him to take me anywhere. I’m just being honest about what I’m feeling this very moment. But he nudges his head toward the parking lot.
“Then let’s go.”
Miller is driving the old blue truck that was sitting in front of their house the day I dropped him off. I don’t even know what kind of truck it is, but it’s the same color of blue as the sky is right now. The windows are down, so I’m guessing his air conditioner no longer works. Or maybe he just likes to drive with the windows down. I pull my hair up and tie it in a knot so it’ll stop blowing in my face. I tuck flyaways behind my ears and then rest my chin on my arm as I stare out the window.
I don’t ask him where we’re going. I don’t even care. I just know that with every mile he puts between me and that funeral home, I feel more and more pressure release from my chest.
A song plays, and I ask Miller to turn it up. I’ve never heard it before, but it’s beautiful and has nothing to do with any of the thoughts I’m having, and the singer’s voice is so soothing it feels like a bandage. As soon as it ends, I ask him to play it again.
“I can’t,” Miller says. “It’s the radio. Truck is too old for Bluetooth.”
“What was the song?”
“‘Dark Four Door,’ by Billy Raffoul.”
“I liked it.” I look back out the window, just as another song begins to play. I like his taste in music. I wish I could just do this all day, every day. Ride around listening to sad songs while Miller drives. For some reason, sadness in music eases the sadness in my soul. It’s like the worse
the heartache in a song is, the better I feel. Dramatic songs are like a drug, I imagine. Really bad for you, but they make you feel good.
I wouldn’t know. I’ve never done drugs before, so I’ve never tested that particular comparison. I’ve never even been high. It’s hard to do normal rebellious teenage things when you have two parents who overcompensate for the mistakes they made when
“You hungry?” Miller asks. “Thirsty?”
I pull away from the window and turn to look at him. “No. I kind of want to get high, though.”
His eyes move swiftly from the road to me. He smiles a little. “I’m sure you do.”
“I’m serious,” I say, sitting up straighter. “I’ve never tried it before, and I really want to get out of my head today. Do you have any weed?”
“No,” he says.
I sink back into my seat, disappointed.
“But I know where you can get some.”
Ten minutes later, he’s pulling up to the local movie theater. He tells me to wait in the truck. I almost tell him never mind, that it was just a random thought. But part of me is curious if it’ll help with the grief. I’ll try anything at this point.
He walks into the theater, and less than a minute later, he’s walking out with a guy who looks a little older than us. Maybe in his twenties. I don’t recognize him. They walk to the guy’s car, and within fifteen seconds, cash and weed are exchanged.
Just like that.
It seems so easy yet fills me with a nervous energy. It’s not legal in Texas, and even if it were, Miller is only seventeen.
Not to mention, he has a brand-new dashcam in this old truck. I’m positive the dashcam didn’t catch the transaction, but if he were to
be arrested right now, the police would search his truck and probably watch the video and hear that the drugs are for me.
My knee is bouncing nervously when Miller climbs back into his truck.
He drives to the side of the movie theater and faces the road so that we can see the entire parking lot. He pulls a baggie out of his pocket. There’s an already-rolled joint in it.
The truck is so old it still has one of those built-in cigarette lighters. He pushes it in to heat up and then hands me the joint. I stare at it, unsure of what to do with it. I look at Miller expectantly. “You aren’t going to light it for me?”
He shakes his head. “I don’t smoke.”
“But . . . you have a dealer.”
Miller laughs. “His name is Steven. He’s my coworker, not a dealer. But he always has weed on him.”
“Well, shit. I didn’t think I’d have to do it myself. I’ve never even lit a cigarette before.” I pull out my phone and open YouTube. I search for how to light a joint and start playing a video.
“YouTube has weed-smoking tutorials?” he asks.
“Shocking, I know.”
Miller is finding this amusing. I can tell by the expression on his face. He scoots closer to me and watches the video with me. “You sure you want to get high? Your hands are shaking.” He takes the phone from me.
“It would be rude to change my mind now. You already paid for it.”
Miller continues holding the phone for us. When the video is over, I pull the lighter out of its socket and stare at it hesitantly.
“Here. I can try.”
I hand it to him, and he lights the joint as if he’s a pro. Kind of makes me question his initial claim. He inhales once, then blows the smoke away from me, out his open window. He hands it to me next, but when I attempt to inhale, I just end up coughing and sputtering through the whole thing. I’m not nearly as graceful as he was.
“If you don’t smoke weed, how come you did it so easily?”
He laughs. “I didn’t say I’ve never tried it. I’ve just never lit a joint before.”
I try it again, but I still can’t get it to go down smooth. “It’s so disgusting,” I choke.
“Edibles are better.”
“Then why didn’t you get me an edible?”
“Steven didn’t have any, and drugs aren’t really my thing.”
I hold the joint between my fingers, looking down at it, wondering how I ended up here when I should be at my father’s funeral. Drugs aren’t my thing, either, I guess. It feels so unnatural. “What
your thing?” I ask, looking back at Miller.
He leans his head back against his seat and thinks on this for a moment. “Iced tea. And cornbread. I love cornbread.”
I laugh. Not what I expected. I wait a moment before taking another hit. Lexie would be horrified if she saw me right now.
I didn’t even tell her I was leaving the funeral. I look at my phone, but she hasn’t texted. I only have one text from my mother, sent fifteen minutes ago.
Mom: Where are you?
I flip my phone facedown. If I can’t see the text, it doesn’t exist.
“What about you?” Miller asks. “What’s your thing?”
“Acting. But you already know that.”
He makes a face. “When you asked what my thing was, for some reason, I thought we were talking about things we like to consume.”
That makes me smile. “No, it includes anything. What are you the most into? What is the one thing you would never be willing to give up in life?”
He’s probably going to say Shelby.
“Photography,” he says quickly. “Filming, editing. Anything that puts me behind the camera.” He tilts his head and smiles at me. “But you already know that.”
“That why you have a dashcam?” I say, pointing at it. “You have a need to be behind a camera, even when you’re driving?”
He nods. “I also have this.” He opens the glove box and pulls out a GoPro. “I always have some kind of camera on me. Never know when that perfect photographic moment will arise.”
I think Miller might be just as into filming as I am when it comes to acting. “Too bad your ex won’t let us work on the film project together. We might actually make a good team.” I lift the joint back to my mouth, even though I hate everything about it. “How much do I have to smoke before it makes me feel numb?”
make you feel numb. It might make you feel nervous and paranoid.”
I look at the joint, disappointed. “Well, crap.” I look for somewhere to snuff it out, but there’s not an ashtray in his truck. “What do I do with it? I don’t like it.”
Miller takes it from me and pinches the end of it with his fingers. He gets out and throws it in a trash can, then comes back to his truck.
Such a gentleman. Buying me weed and then disposing of it for me.
What a weird day. And I don’t feel anything at all yet. Still just full of grief.
“I’m back together with Shelby.”
I take it back. I felt that.
“That sucks,” I say.
I roll my head and look at him pointedly. “No . . . it does. It sucks. You shouldn’t have even brought it up.”
“I didn’t,” he says. “You did. You called her my ex a minute ago, and I felt I needed to clarify that we got back together.”
I don’t even know why he’s telling me this. I tilt my head, narrowing my eyes. “Do you think I’m into you? Is that why you keep informing me of your relationship status when we’re together?”
Miller smiles. “You’re abrasive.”
I laugh, turning away from him because I’m scared my laugh will result in tears. It’s funny, though. Sad and funny, because my mother used to refer to my father as abrasive. I guess the apple didn’t fall far from my father’s tree either.
Miller must think he insulted me, because he leans forward a little, trying to get my attention. “I didn’t mean that in a negative way.”
I wave him off, letting him know I’m not offended. “It’s fine. You’re right. I am abrasive. I like to argue, even when I know I’m wrong.” I face him. “I’m getting better, though. I’m learning that sometimes you have to walk away from the fight in order to win it.”
My aunt Jenny told me that once. I try to remember it every time I feel like I’m on the defensive.
Miller smiles gently at me, and I don’t know if the weed is finally kicking in or if his smile is making me light headed. Either way, it beats the headache I’ve had for five days from all the crying.
“If you’re back together with Shelby, why are you checking on me right now? Pretty sure she wouldn’t approve of this.”
A flash of guilt crosses his face. He grips his steering wheel, then slides his hands down it. “I’d feel even guiltier if I
check on you.”
I’d really like to ruminate on that comment, but our conversation is ruined by the intrusion of a car that pulls up next to us. I glance out my open window, then sit up straight. “Crap.”
“Get in the car, Clara.” My mother’s words are firm and loud, but it could be because the windows are down and she pulled up so close to Miller’s truck that I’m not sure I’ll be able to open the door.
“Is that your mother?” Miller whispers.
“Yep.” But oddly it doesn’t faze me as much as it probably should. Maybe the weed really did help, because I kind of want to laugh that she’s here. “I forgot we have that app. She can track me anywhere.”
“Clara,” my mother says again.
Miller raises an eyebrow. “Good luck.”
I shoot him a tight-lipped smile and then open my door. I was right—I can’t get out. “You parked too close, Mom.”
My mother inhales a slow breath and then puts the gearshift in reverse. When I’m clear to open my door, I don’t even look back at Miller. I walk to my mother’s car and get inside. She says nothing as she begins to drive away from the theater.
Nothing until the words “Who was that?”
I can feel her disapproval, despite her silence. A few seconds later, she swings her head in my direction. “Oh my God. Are you high?”
“Were you just getting high with that guy?”
“No. We were just talking.”
I don’t sound convincing.
She makes a
sound and then says, “You smell like weed.”
“Do I?” I sniff my dress, which is stupid, because anyone who knows they don’t smell like weed wouldn’t sniff themselves to see if they do smell like weed.
Her jaw clenches even tighter when we make eye contact. Something has completely given me away. I flip down the visor and look at my bloodshot eyes.
Wow, that happened fast.
I flip up the visor.
“I can’t believe you skipped your father’s funeral to get high.”
“I stayed for most of it.”
“It was your father’s
She is so pissed right now.
I sigh and stare out my window. “How long am I grounded for?”