“There’s a ringing in my ears,” Christine said as they were driving. “What’s that called again? Trich… tri…”
“Tinnitus,” he replied. She focused first on the digital green numbers of the radio on the dashboard, and then her eye wandered over to his hands, large male hands, smoothly guiding the steering wheel, his fingertips locked around its curvature, brushing its thick seam. Her world was always so filled with women; her co-workers were all women, she grew up without a father or brothers, and none of her friends had boyfriends. It was strange, alarming even, to be sitting beside someone with the stature and size of a man. She sat, diminutive and petite, in the passenger seat beside him, twiddling her thumbs in her lap; a nervous habit she could never seem to stop.
“I don’t think I have that,” she said. “It’s an ongoing thing, right?” What an odd thing to talk about… and she realized after she brought it up that she had imagined the insistent ringing. The noise was perhaps from the car or the whistling of the brusque wind streamlining the sides of his vehicle. How did she come to be in this man’s vehicle at all?
“I think so,” was all he replied. She glanced down at his hands again; wide with large, long fingers that were anything but delicate, yet moving with soft ballerina precision. She couldn’t drive and driving fascinated her, its motions and idiosyncrasies, the adultness of the task.
“Sorry, you’re losing focus,” she said abruptly.
“That’s okay,” he replied. He reached over with his right hand and squeezed her shoulder softly, massaging its bony blade with his palm.
He was tall. That was the first thing she noticed about him, the first thing most people noticed about him, he said. His height; immense stature, and he had a habit of hunching to hide himself. His dark thick hair was falling in very small tendrils around his face, limp and slick. He wore a t-shirt featuring a band she had never heard of, perhaps the band they were driving to see? She couldn’t remember. She wanted to ask but restrained herself; looking like she didn’t care was the last thing she wanted.
“So how much longer?”
“Few more minutes,” he said. Warmth; his voice possessed enormous quantities of warmth. He smiled in the corners of his mouth, setting the apples of his cheeks ablaze in a warm sunny apple skin-pink.
Empty fields slowly turned to large suburban neighbourhoods packed tightly with eerily same-y white and blue homes, which gradually turned into the humble beginnings of city limits. Night was crawling out slowly, and she could still see stars, the city lights still scant and dim. Summer evenings were so satisfyingly long; they dragged on and on, blue-tinted afternoons. It was odd though; night came so suddenly, it was impossible to predict its arrival. By the time they reached their destination, a small brick-adorned club with a modest painted wooden sign, the night air was chilly and the sky a deep ink-black. She looked up; no more stars.