I took an Uber by myself today. Two hours before, I was in a lecture about rideshares my college was required to give. The biggest piece of advice they had was to check the license plate before you get in the car. I forgot to do that.
I put my headphones in and let myself be carried into the world living inside my head. I had to dust off a few cobwebs, as the only way my world can be accessed is when my eyes are unfocused in a car, watching-not-watching the scenery roll past. Freshman parking passes are too expensive, so I hadn’t done this in a while.
I was going to Target. My mom and I stopped there before she took me to the dorm to say goodbye for the last time. I am going on a Target run by myself, as my life always goes. New town, new people, new tastes, new smells, same me. Living inside my head. There is no company. I wouldn’t know how to be if there was.
I don’t have the best sense of direction, but I knew there were two specific turns you have to hit to get to the mall where the Target is. You need to go right at the stop sign, then merge left and stay in that lane for about ten minutes. I knew because my mom pointed this out to me on the drive there. She said I should know where I am at all times, since this is a new town.
I was in my head again. The Uber driver missed the merge. The car was going the wrong way.
In the lecture, they told us about a nineteen-year-old girl named Cathy who got into a car that she thought was her Uber. She went missing and was found three days later, dead in a bush, two miles from the side of I-95. She was just coming back from her friend’s house. She was just going home.
I didn’t have a home anymore. The second I moved away I promised myself that I would never make my mom sad again. I had made her so sad these past seventeen years. I will let her believe that I’m okay. She will never know about these feelings again. I’ve built a house in my chest and I crawl inside when I need to pretend I belong somewhere.
Cathy was just going home. I was going nowhere. I hovered my thumb over the emergency button on the Uber app. I thought about my mom. I didn’t press it.
The driver was going so fast I couldn’t even read the street signs anymore. They blurred together, with the trees and the houses and the other cars.
I was lost. I’m always lost. Nothing will change.
I thought about my body, two miles from the road, dead in a bush. I couldn’t bring myself to feel scared. I couldn’t bring myself to care.
I put the other earbud in and waited for the stop, for the second location, for the last minute of my life. I looked up at the sun that was peeking through the branches of the blurry trees. I knew her, at least. I’ve been looking at her for seventeen years.
The car made another turn and I saw the red circles. The driver pulled up to the curb and wished me a good day. I wasn’t disappointed, I wasn’t relieved. I tugged at the student ID hanging from my neck and asked the sun why Cathy didn’t deserve to get off at her stop but I did.
There was no answer. I needed Tupperware.