The house was eerily quiet, almost as if it was wrong to not have unnecessary conflicts bouncing against the walls. They seemed to happen every night now; something you could set your watch to, but life had seemed to combine into a single blur that needed calendars and reminders on your phone to know what day or month it was. Time moved faster yet slower, and color seemed to fade into the grey purgatory I was living in.

My husband was always in a bad mood when he came home from work now. He complained about everything but never mentioned a struggle that could be overcome and defeat his unhealthy behavior, only grumbling or yelling about the multiple inconveniences that had befallen him on that day.

It wasn’t always this way. We used to be in love, or so I thought. We had two beautiful children that we cherished dearly and wanted to give the world to. But after a childhood friend of his died everything turned south. I would never blame it on that woman – she must have been going through some very difficult struggles to take her own life – yet I did notice the glow in his heart start to dim. I found him crying holding a picture of her, then when I was once discovered to be watching him he shut down all of his depressed emotions and channeled them into anger. Our son noticed these subtle changes in him and decided to move to a college farther away than he had originally planned, and that seemed to take a toll on poor Claire.

I walked up the stairs to her room and knocked for the third time that morning. “Claire, sweetie, it’s time to get up.”

There was no reply, so I retreated downstairs once again.

In the past I would have entered her room and made sure she got up, but now I found myself a strange sort of timid I had never been before. I used to be the girl in the frontlines during a protest; feminist when it wasn’t trendy, and that was how Richard and I had met. We were at a march for women’s rights, and everything began. Now the man I had fallen for fighting for equality was the same man that pushed me down at any given moment.

I was so lost in thought with the reliving of technicolor memories that I didn’t notice Claire had left until I heard the front door gently close. I picked up the toast I had made for her and started eating it. I worried about her a lot. James, her brother, had always been so happy and optimistic, but with him gone she had retreated into herself and the mind that use to create the most beautiful things. With no outlet, the color she used to bring had left everything dull and monotone.

My phone gave the sound of an alert and I grabbed my bag. My car had been demolished by a group of rowdy teenagers and had left me needing to grab an Uber every morning to get to work. My husband was unwilling to give me a ride in his car as I left earlier than him and when I offered to ride my long-forgotten bike instead an argument broke out. My husband owned a car dealership and his rival enemy is the bike shop across the way. The next day I found my bike suspiciously missing, so Uber was my last resort.

I was excited to look down at my phone and see who my driver was. For the past week my driver had been the same man and it had been a true pleasure to get to know him. The first day he drove me Phil Collins was playing and we connected instantly.

Instead of sitting in the back seat, I sat up front with him, now no need for an invitation. “Well,” he started, looking at me, “do you have it?”

I pulled out my phone, “All locked and loaded.” He started to drive as I plugged my phone into the AUX cord and found my playlist. “I still can’t believe you’ve never listened to U2.”

“I had no reason to, Phil Collins was all I needed.”

“Well, as great as Mr. Collins is, you must listen to the genius of U2 as well.”

The music started playing and his head started nodding to the beat. I found myself lip sinking to the words and occasionally drumming on the air as well. He laughed when he saw my arms flail in the corner of his eye and for once I felt like a teenager again. The feeling of rebellion and justice filled my chest once again as this overwhelming emotion seemed to fill the car. I had lived a friendless, loveless, and meaningless life for so long I couldn’t even tell you how long it had truly been, but those morning car rides were little escapes into the past where I could finally be myself without any limitations from the outside world.

Prompts:

ella ♡
ella ♡
@meialle