Jeremy Miller drove through the night, fingers clenched around the steering wheel, his high beams cutting through the darkness. Dried blood was crusted on his hands and clumped in his hair. Beside him, Natalie, the love of his life, lay slumped against the passenger side door, breathing deeply in sleep. Her yellow lace dress was streaked in rusted strips and splotches.
A dip in the road caused Jeremy’s stomach to lurch and the body in the trunk to thump. Or maybe it was the sound of the body that caused his stomach to drop. Who could tell at this point? He was strung out on adrenaline, every nerve in his body was tense, and he felt like he was going to wretch at any moment.
Natalie groaned as she woke up. She stretched as she shifted away from the door and sat up. “Are we almost there?” she asked, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.
“Almost where?” Jeremy asked. “Where are we going? What exactly is the plan here?” He looked rapidly back and forth between the road and her.
She leaned forward in her seat staring through the windshield at the road winding through the steep mountain cliffs, the pavement and rocks illuminated by the headlights.
“Where are we?” she asked.
“How do you not know? You’re driving!” she asked, her opened wide.
Sure he was driving, but this was her plan. It was her plan to run away from her boyfriend of two years. She was the one who asked him for help. A mere 24 hours ago she was just the girl next door he had loved from afar.
“We need to get out of the province so if the road said east, I took it,” he tightened his grip on the steering wheel. “If you don’t like my decisions, then maybe you should have stayed awake.” His eyes felt dry and gritty, like he hadn’t blinked in hours.
Natalie crossed her arms and huffed, but didn’t counter. Bruises clung to her arms and her cheek was swollen, some were from the fight, but others were part of the accumulation that lead to her wanting to run away.
They drove in silence as slowly the darkness lifted breaking way for the pinks and oranges of dawn peaking through the tall pine trees that surrounded them. Jeremy rubbed his eyes trying to prevent them from falling closed.
“I need to stop somewhere for coffee.” He glanced at his hands. “And to wash up.”
“We need to ditch the body first,” Natalie said.
“Excuse me?” he asked, raising his eyebrows.
“If we get pulled over, we screwed. And we don’t have a chance of crossing the border until we get rid of it.”
“We should have just called the police,” Jeremy whispered. knowing it was a touchy subject.
“No,” she said with finality.
He glowered. He hadn’t agreed to this. He was just going to help her run away. Not to kill Sam. But Sam had been so enraged that Natalie had no choice. She’d been the one who stabbed him. Jeremy hadn’t been able to do anything, but look on in horror from his place on the floor where Sam had been kicking him.
Immediately, everything stopped. It was like being at the top of a roller coaster, hovering over the inevitable descent, knowing what was coming and being powerless to stop it. Then, suddenly time was moving again, faster than before. Sam slumped to the floor, bleeding everywhere. Natalie sobbing. There was blood everywhere. His blood. Sam’s blood. Natalie’s blood. Then Sam was dead and they had to get him out of there. No body, no crime scene and no one to come looking for them.
Jeremy pulled over into a lookout and they hauled Sam’s tarp encased body out of the trunk. He was taller than Jeremy and much heavier. They half carried, half dragged him down a little path into the woods and quickly veered off into the trees away from where tourists snapping selfies might catch sight or smell of the soon-to-be rotting corpse.
An hour and a half later, exhausted, out of breath, and every muscle aching in his body, they finally got back to the car after ditching him in a thick patch of bushes. As the doors slammed shut, he looked over at Natalie sitting the passenger seat. How many times over the past year had he envisioned running away with her.
He threw the car into gear and pulled back out onto the road. His greatest dream and worst nightmare had simultaneously come to fruition and there wasn’t a plan or destination in sight.