My girlfriend and I are driving down rocky back roads of North Dakota late on a Friday night. It’s been one hell of a trip to get here. She claims to have found something–a surprise, she says.
I try to enjoy the sunset, but it’s already behind the walls of trees, and the green of the leaves is beginning to bleed into gray. I’m zoning out just as she turns up the volume on the radio. “This is my favorite song,” she cheers at me. I sing along as we watch the rest of the daylight melt away.
I break the sound of music, asking, “Where are we going?”
“I got a call the other week,” she says, “and I had to let you see it for yourself.”
“It’s a surprise, Justin,” she scoffs.
She’s such a sweet little goose. The last surprise was a walk out to the very end of an old, wooden dock, just to see a flower growing from the rust of the holdings. She knows I love the ways life finds itself a place to be.
After following the roads temptingly close to the Canadian border, she comes to a stop.
“We’re here, I think.”
“You think? Do you know where we are?” I’m beginning to be concerned.
“It has to be here somewhere,” and at that moment, she darts into the woods like a stray bullet.
Chasing surely, I listen for the rustling leaves grow faint in front of me. I stop.
“HEY!” I yell out into the forest.
“Over here,” she replies in the distance.
I half stumble, half flail to her location, instantly frozen in my steps when I see it. “Holy shit. This is my brother’s car.” And this was his car–a 1970 Chevy Nova, custom. It even has the little gold lightning bolts on the rear fenders. He built this himself, and now it’s ghost, just like him.
“Maybe he’s still out here, alive,” she says.
Maybe she’s right.