Fiction: “Red Wrangler”
Cydney Smith | On 01, May 2020
Not a Corvette, or a BMW, but a bright red Wrangler. It’s a Jeep, he told me he had saved it for occasions like this. That explains why he rides his bike everywhere, he says it isn’t just a car, it is precious. He’s Gio, he calls me Cyn, short for Cynthia. It’s Spring break, my first as a college student. Gio is a junior, we met at a pep rally my sophomore year in high school… I always thought he was kind of cute.
Gio thinks of me as his little sister, he always did. This trip was his idea, he doesn’t have all the details, but he knows he wants to get away for a little while. He comes to visit me the week before break, he says he wants to leave this Friday and come back next Sunday. We argue and bicker about where we would go, after all of that, we still don’t decide. Gio says he has a place in mind, but he’s not exactly sure.
I guess it didn’t matter because he never told me the name of it, we pack our bags, buy snacks for the trip, and then we hit the road. I’ve never been in a car with Gio, let alone this Jeep that he never drives… I admire the way he drives. I catch myself staring at him several times during the drive, he glances back at me and smiles if he notices. I got excited when he took the top off at one of the gas stations we stop at, I always wanted to stand up in a car while it was moving.
When the road looks empty, I turn the music up and slowly stand up. As I stand there, I feel the wind blowing through my braids, I put my arms up and feel like I could fly. I am free, I smile ear to ear and so does he when he sees how happy I am. We talk and laugh for the rest of the ride. I must have fallen asleep because I turn around and Gio is hiding a bag of chips between his legs. When I realize they are the same chips we would fight over in high school, I try to grab them. Then we start fighting over them again, he purposely swerves the car and I scream. “Chill,” he says as he swerves the car back. “Gio give them here.” I hold my hand out. He chuckles as he gives me a half-empty bag of chips, I see the chip dust on his fingers. I glance in the backseat and remember we have other snacks. I feel his hand grip my ankle as I damn near jump in the backseat to grab the bag with the candy in it. I grab the gummy bears… the sour ones, I know those are his favorite. “I’m not sharing,” I said as I shove a whole bunch of them in my mouth.
“Cyn look!”, he points at a road sign that I couldn’t read because the sun glares on my glasses. I am still oblivious to where we were going, Gio tells me it isn’t a hotel though. He says he rented a house in a secret town. “Gio I didn’t see it.” He said nothing for a while, then we pull into a driveway. He says, “ We’re here.” After 5 hours we make it… somewhere. He gives me the key and I open the door, the smell of hardwood floors fills my nose. “Gio, what is this?” I ask with a smile on my face. “It’s spring break!!”. I walk over to help him with the bags, we both reach for the same bag and our hand’s touch. I grab his hands, interlace them with mine and exclaim, “Thank you!!”
We take the bags in the house, our rooms are upstairs. There is mainly carpet upstairs, so shoes are not allowed up there. The hardwood floor smell goes away and it now smells like the stuff I use on my carpet to make it smell good before I vacuum it. As I put my bag down, I run my fingers through the white carpet, it is very clean for white and it is very soft.
Gio’s room is on the other side of the house, there is a window in the middle of the wall in mine. I can see the yard from up here, there is a trampoline and swings outside. As I turn around to sit on the bed, I hear a door swing open “CYN!!” I look out the window, there Gio was jumping on the trampoline.
I run down the stairs, I nearly fall down them, scramble to put my shoes on and I run outside to join him. I scream as I leap on the trampoline. The sun slaps my face and almost blinds me. As I look at Gio, I wonder if he is hungry or not. I don’t say anything and just keep jumping.
When we are done, Gio helps me down and finally starts talking about food. My mouth waters at the thought of Chipotle, I saw one on the way here. “Do you have any suggestions?” he asks me. He looks at me and smiles, he must know what I’m about to say. We simultaneously scream “CHIPOTLE!” We order it for delivery because Gio was tired of driving. While waiting on the food we explore the rest of the house, he tells me about a water hole that’s supposedly in the area, my eyes light up. “I’m not exactly sure where it is… we can look for it after this if you want.” He looks up at me. “Of course, I want to,” I exclaim. His phone buzzes, I think the food is here. I haven’t had Chipotle in ages… I can already smell it. First bite, I can already feel the spice of the chicken on my tongue… I only had a donut for breakfast, so I eat my food pretty fast.
It’s kind of late, so I ask Gio if we’re still going to look for the water hole, he tells me to hurry up so we can go. I put a bikini under my clothes just in case we find it. I bring the speaker. We’re back in the Jeep…Gio has no idea where he’s going, I can tell. I drift off as we drive in circles soon after, I feel the car stop and Gio mumbles something under his breath. I open my eyes and I see something blue glowing in the distance, I rush out the car to go look at it. “Hold on…” He’s not sure if it’s safe. Gio grabs my hand and tells me to stay behind him. “Gio it’s just the water,” I try to explain to him, but I guess something made him a little nervous. My eyes light up as I gaze into the glowing water. I feel his hand shaking as he keeps squeezing mine. “I wanna go in,” I beg him to let me jump in the water. He says that he’ll go first. I am confused as he hesitates to jump. When he finally did, everything went silent for about 10 seconds. I go to the car, turn the speaker on and play Frank Ocean
My heart dropped, then I heard him crash into the water, I was relieved. He gave me the ok to jump in, I take my stuff off and jump in. The water is cold, we swim to the bottom to see who can come up the fastest. We only spent thirty minutes in the water because it is pretty cold, Gio says we can come back tomorrow. I don’t know how long it takes to drive back to the house, everything over here looks so pretty at night. He tells me we’re in The City Of the Forbidden, I’m not sure what he means so I ignore him. As soon as we get back, I freshen up and go to bed. We drive to the waterhole every day this week, but something was different about Thursday, he tells me not to bring my phone. I am confused at first, but I trust Gio so I leave it. He must remember where the water is because it didn’t take that long to get here anymore. Before we jump in, we sit on the rocks and talk. Gio reveals to me that he is scared of the dark, that’s why he hesitated to jump in the water the other day. I am surprised at first, but I don’t hold it against him. Before we jump in, I told him to say all his fears out loud and yell “I surrender” when he jumps to help release some of the fear that he holds inside. I always do it, just never out loud, today… I say them out loud. I once again feel free, I always feel free when I’m with Gio. He’s always so cool.
We jump in at the same time while holding hands, we both yell “I surrender.” I swim to the bottom and grab one of the rocks to keep, it is black and smooth. I show Gio, he laughs and hugs me. We leave earlier than usual, I look at Gio differently after today. He tells me Friday is the last day we’re going to the water, so I bring a jar with me and write Forbidden on it. I bring the jar when we go to the water, I scoop some water into it to see if it will still glow at night. We don’t actually get in the water today, we just admire the view and lay on the rocks. Gio tells me that he thinks I’m hiding something or holding back. I stop in my tracks, my heart drops. What does he know? My hands start to shake and my palms get sweaty. I have a hard time getting words to come out. “What are you talking about?” I look down to avoid eye contact, he grabs my hand and interlaces it with his. My heart is pounding, the voice in my head screams “Kiss me, kiss me, kiss me!” He actually does it. This makes me question whether that was in my head or not, my cheeks turn red and I use my hands to cover them. Gio gives me a hug and I bury my head in his chest. I thought the water hole was my happy place, then I realize anywhere with Gio is my happy place.
That night I put the water on the window sill, I watch it glow, I look at the stars and I thank God for Gio and his red Wrangler…