4–In which I remind you to always keep your eyes on the road

This chapter is dedicated to Andrea. Happy Birthday!

Long back, Neola had told me she hadn’t met anyone else while driving back to Felicity. However, her claim was rebuked by Jo. What really happened was this: Neola turned in her chair to stare at Emma, seemingly unable to comprehend her answer. The other girl merely gave her a cool stare in return. This staring contest would have been all well and good if Neola hadn’t accidentally pressed the accelerator at the same time. Beats me how anyone could be such a neophyte at driving.

“NEOLA!” Charlie yelled, the panic obvious in his voice.

This is a good time to point out that multitasking while driving is not the best idea. Especially if you have children in tow.

Actually, scrap that.

No matter who you have in your car, you should always keep your eyes on the road in front of you. Unless you are immortal and have a truly dreadful person with you. In that case, I welcome you to drive and glare at that horrendous person for as long as you like.

Neola slammed on the brakes. A figure was staring at the blue CRV on the road with wide startled eyes. The person was holding a very large, very thick book and looked utterly lost.

Neola waited for the teenager to scurry away before accelerating once more. “Whew, that was close,” she said.

Emma and Charlie exchanged glances and looked warily at Neola.

“It was an honest mistake, don’t look at me like that!”

They drove in silence for some distance. They passed the river which looked serene as usual. A leaf falling from a branch slowly made its way down into the water creating small ripples which sparkled in the light. There weren’t anymore embarrassing episodesit was a smooth drive.

Charlie couldn’t help turning his head to catch a glimpse of Emma. She twirled her glossy, black hair around her fingers. Her forget-me-not eyes were deep wells of blue which he felt he could just drown into. She was gorgeous, there was no denying it.

And she knew that.

Emma’s lip curled as she felt Charlie’s stare. She glanced at him just enough to let him think she was interested when really there was no chance she’d let another boy hurt her like the first one.

She couldn’t help feeling a glow of satisfaction when Charlie kept looking her way. She knew she had that kind of influence over others. A small part of her, though, wished that people wouldn’t stop at the surface and would go a bit deeper to get to know her better. She was always mistaken for one of those pretty and dumb girls but Emma knew that she wasn’t one.

Neola kept driving and the silence persisted until the roads unfurled themselves into the coast, and the coast unfurled itself into the great, wide expanse of water we call the ocean.

Yet Neola showed no signs of slowing down. In fact, she seemed to be excited about driving towards the ocean. She seemed to be accelerating faster and faster.

“Neola,” said Charlie. He turned around in his chair to get some moral support but Emma seemed unfazed. “I love doing bold things but we’re going to drown!” Here was the juxtaposition of Charlie’s nature. Although he considered himself to be brave and tough, he wasn’t always quite so. He was comfortable in extreme dilemmas but gawked at petty ones.  Charlie half-expected Neola to turn on him and reveal herself to be working with that weird looking man but she smiled sweetly and said, “Let’s see,” in a foreboding tone.

“NEOLA, WE ARE GOING TO DROWN!” yelled Charlie as the CRV entered the ocean. He squeezed his eyes tightly, regretting his decision in choosing to go along with Neola.


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