Her right shoulder ached but she knew that rolling over would unveil a destiny she wasn’t ready to confront yet. It was easier to face the window of instead of the studio apartment that had a kitchen to the left of the entrance, a television against the right wall, and a couch touching the bed that sat against that window.
Light poured through the window that clearly hadn’t been cleaned in weeks, if not months. Resting on the floor in the crevice between the bed and the window sat her phone. Having the presence of mind to plug the charger from her clutch into her phone, she had evidently had too much Bulleit to plug her actual charger into the wall.
“Fuck,” she thought, fearing her phone would be dead.
She awkwardly reached her arm over and attempted to hit the home button to see if her phone would light up. As her index finger touched it, she was pleasantly surprised to see it illuminate despite the fact that she couldn’t see what was actually on the screen due to the sun’s reflection. Using her same finger to inch the phone closer to the bed, her concern grew as the battery icon in the upper-right corner was red signaling she would only have so much time to formulate an exit strategy that didn’t involve plugging her phone in to get the extra battery.
She tapped 9-7-9-9 and unlocked the phone to open her Uber app. Quickly giving her ride from the night before five stars to get him off the screen and order a new ride, she saw where her pin rested on the app’s map.
“Fuckkkkkk,” again raced through her head which increasingly began to hurt as the few minutes she’d been awake kept passing.
Her time was limited and she knew it. The time between when she ordered the Uber and when it was actually accepted was similar to the last ten seconds of something in a microwave; taking forever yet only a blip on the radar when you account for the twenty minutes you spend looking for something to watch on HBO Now.
With the car just two minutes away, she slid her charger over to the clutch that sat against the bed. Slowly moving one foot off the bed, she paused to make sure that his snore was, in fact, a snore and not him waking up. Her eyes widened and looked out the window praying, “Please don’t wake up, please don’t wake up.”
Placing her other foot on the ground, she gently stood up and tip-toed to the door where her boots sat underneath her jacket which hung from the doorknob. Sliding her feet in and folding the jacket over her arm, she creaked the door open and slid out. Her hand remained on the twisted doorknob as she shut the door, only to release it making the final noise that could possibly wake him up.
The car sputtered outside the building’s entrance with a surplus of exhaust pouring from the car. With his window down, he sat on his hands to keep them warm before asking, “Jennifer?”
She cleared her throat and responded, “Yep, that’s me,” as she jumped in the backseat. She looked through the frosted car up to the window she had just spent her morning staring out of as he started his route and pulled away from the curb.
“Long night, early morning, or a little of both?” he chuckled in an effort to lighten the mood of the bitterly cold morning.
“Ha,” she laughed, “A little of both – say, do you have an iPhone charger in here? My phone literally died as I got in your car.”
“Yep, it’s for a 6 or 7 or whichever generation there is now.”
He wondered how the heat in the car was for her as she shivered in the back seat but knew bringing it up was pointless considering he had it as warm as it could possibly go. Looking through his rearview mirror, he could see nothing but her smudged makeup and jacket that she was clutching around her body. He couldn’t tell if she’d been crying, mischievous, or a little of both, but it wasn’t his business either way.
Judging by her initial response to the question, he decided to take it one step further – “Pretty far from home, it looks like. I don’t often drive in this area.”
She gave the same “ha” that she had given when she originally answered him. “Yeah, I just moved a little further north.”
“Oh, you used to live down here?” he questioned in an effort to make conversation rather than out of actual curiosity. He had been driving for most of the night and was using her as his means to get closer to his apartment without simply driving there without getting paid.
“Yep,” she replied while still looking out the window that was slowly but surely defrosting. “Are you from around here?”
It was a generic question he’d heard from half of his riders that night, if not more. “Oh yeah, all my life.”
She looked down at her phone to see how much battery had been added in the short period of time since she got in the car – only four extra percent. Just as she looked away, she felt the vibration of a text coming through. She again unlocked her phone revealing an iMessage reading, “Why’d you leave already?” Without response, she locked her phone and tried to distract herself by again talking to the driver.
“I’m ready to live in a new part of the city,” she told him.
“How long you live down there for?”
“Just six months,” she told him. “We just moved here out of college.”
He paused and wondered who the other half of her “we” was but feared asking for clarification. If he’d learned anything as a driver, it was that while people are willing to reveal more than he’d care to hear, he couldn’t simply stunt a conversation because of any sort of wall he’d instinctively put up for himself. He was confused given that he believed she was coming from a romantic involvement’s house, but he also didn’t want to put her in an uncomfortable place by assuming anything. With nothing else to ask, he broke.
She looked down at her phone and saw another text come in. Flipping her phone over, she brought her head up and looked into his mirror.
“Yeah, but that’s over.”
He pulled the car up to the location she had entered in her elevator ride down from the studio where she woke up. Double parking, he gave a half-hearted, “Well that’s too bad.”
She slid over and opened the door, remarking, “Let’s just hope we don’t have to make this drive again.”
He laughed, “I won’t if you won’t.”
Shutting the door, she again opened the app and gave him the same five stars she gives every driver before double tapping her home button and switching to her messages. Holding her finger over the unread text, she slid her thumb to the left and pressed “Delete.” .