the best time for life changing decisions

the best time for life changing decisions

Charlotta Dai | Art by Allison Lin

“I really–should–frick–not have skipped gym class.”, Maria said as she lifted herself up the van, grasping onto the railings of the roof with a white knuckled grip. 

Lela laughs, putting her gas station soda down to pull her friend up, “Is it too late to say I told you so?” 

She drags Maria onto the roof, the other girl heaving with exertion, sprawled across the metal. Maria turns her head to glare at Lela, “Yes, it absolutely fricken is.” 

Lela shrugs, and turns her attention to the illuminated sky, bright with the vibrant orange as the sun sets on the horizon of their hometown. 

As Maria sits up, Lela asks her, “Do you think we’ve like made the right choice?” 

“Which one? The one where we like impulsively started a new life or the one where we stole your father’s car?”, Maria asks sarcastically, stealing a sip from Lela’s drink, and frowning at the taste, “This coke tastes like sh-.” 

Lela swipes the soda back, “That’s because it’s been sitting in the sun for a day. You also didn’t answer the question.” Even though it had been sitting in the heat for a day, Lela would swear upon her collection of sketchbooks that it still felt cold in her hands. 

Maria hems and haws for a moment, kicking her feet back and forth against the metal frame of the van, to some rhythm that only she knew. 

For a moment, her face is illuminated by the golden light of the sunset, and Lela itches to jump down and grab her sketchbook or camera to snap a photo to remember this memory– 

“I have to say, I didn’t expect you to be the one to steal the car, or to like even want to leave. Thought you’d be one of those neighborhood elder ladies who’d be there forever to haunt the kids.”, Maria pauses for a moment, “What made you decide to do this?” 

Lela’s throat clogs up and she’s sure it wasn’t the flat cola that made it clog up, as she considers Maria’s question. 

“That’s the issue, isn’t it?”, Lela replies softly, “I was literally trapped. I felt trapped in that hell hole of a town. I think it would’ve killed me.”

Maria taps out a melody on the roof as silence falls over them, the only sound echoing around them for miles besides the birds that chirped around them. 

“What about you?”, Lela says and deflects into the silence, “You legit jumped at the chance the minute I brought it up.” 

Maria had always been the more rebellious one out of the two of them, and by the incredulous laugh that came out of 

Maria kicks at the van, “I–uh thought the same as you, y’know–-but I always thought I’d have to leave you behind. Thought I would never be able to convince you to leave that crazy-ah town.” 

“Well,” Lela gestures to the open field, “We’re here now. You still haven’t answered the question.” 

She could tell Maria was getting nervous again, the rhythm she taps out with her feet and her hands erratic and in direction competition with each other. Maria always answered her questions, bluntly and now, it was a little scary seeing her hesitate. 

Maria sighs, “I think this was the right choice. We both needed this, besides– what’s that old saying? I think it’s like, Carpe Diem? Something latin, about seizing the day? no better time than right after graduation.” 

Lela nods, before checking the time on her watch, “Come on, we gotta find a place to sleep for the night.” 

She hopped off the roof of the van, and Maria followed right after, with a wine, holding the day-old coke precariously in her grip.She grabbed the drink from Maria’s hand, stepping into the van to slip through into the driver’s seat, and Maria following suit into the passenger’s seat. 

The sun illuminated their exit from the field.