Excerpt from “Atlanta”…rough draft by Leah Grace O’Brien

I ran up the steps to the apartment complex to say farewell. The car idled loudly on the side of a busy street, reminding me that I needed to be brief about things. I initially wanted to skip town without saying anything to anyone. Disappearing into the night was how I had intended to leave town…to vanish. Leaving is never easy, but skipping out isn’t so bad.

Nicholas was waiting for me at the top of the stairs, holding a bottle of Tequila. I kept my distance and spoke plainly,”I am leaving. Have you decided if you are coming with us.” He looked incredulous. “You are really going to leave town with those two,” He scratched wildly at the back of his head, something he did when he was agitated. He turned, looking down at the car, its headlights glaring back at him. The sun was in its final stages of setting in the east, its dwindling rays spread across endless creeping ivy which grew, rather ferociously, around every single telephone pole and street lamp on the block.

After several moments of uncomfortable silence, I spoke again. “Listen, I need to go. There is no reason for me to stay here. Either you come with me, or you stay behind.” He took a few steps down the staircase, away from the obscene glare radiating from the cheap plastic overhead light. Pulling a pack of cigarettes from his black jeans, he sighed heavily, whacking the pack hard against the palm of his hand. Looking at his face it only took a second to realize that forlorness was setting in. I wiped my brow and touched his arm, leaning in for a kiss. He quickly turned away. “Just go,” he barked. Those were our final words.

I bounded down the stairs, my backpack bouncing wildly against my back. I made my way into the back seat of the rumbling car. Man, I loved the sound of an old car engine. “Lets go,” I told the girls. I craned my head around to glimpse my beloved watch as our car sped off down the street towards the 402. I slunk down against the hot vinyl padding and pulled a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 from my pack. An immense feeling of relief swept over me. Swigging from the bottle, I gazed out the car window at the flurry of neon lights and purple sky. Cars barreled down the highway as if the large city they were leaving behind was on fire and about to explode. Remnants of trash blew across the busy lanes. A large trailer carrying hogs cut us off,causing me to spill cheap wine all over my skirt. My heart began to beat wildly in my chest. Maribel hit the gas and we sped up, surpassing the legal speed limit. We weaved in and out of traffic until we hit our stride in the center lane, catapulting ourselves into an unknown future.

I leaned forward, handing the half empty bottle to Cyndie. She took a pull and chuckled, “Your boy ain’t looking too happy standing up there at the top of the stairs. He was all but grief struck,” she laughed her scratchy laugh again, a tangle of long brown strands whipping around her face. “Yeah well,” I paused, “he’s not my boy anymore.” I sat back and began unlacing my heavy combat boots. I then removed my socks and pulled my sullied tank top over my head and made a pillow out of it. “He’ll come looking for you,” Maribel said carefully. I held the bottle tightly to my chest and smiled. “Out in this big blue world, I don’t think he will ever find me.”

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2 thoughts on “Excerpt from “Atlanta”…rough draft by Leah Grace O’Brien

  1. Maribel and Cyndie and you…. heading down the highway drinking md20 20, leaving your old life and love behind….. I LOVED THIS!!! and all the more so because of the shot of the infamous Waffle House, my god the memories that image brings back to consciousness…. I should write a book! thanks for the post and for liking my blog too….. cheers for writing! SB

    • Thank you. Yes, Waffle House is iconic! I wish I had photographs of the many I stopped at on my travels. I am currently writing a road book about my experience leaving home at 17….it was a long time ago…summer of 1995 to be exact. I was encouraged by several Composition professors to write it, so I look forward to finishing it this fall. Thank you for reading, I appreciate it!

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