First Night Back – Sara Crawford

I just couldn’t stay home anymore so I aimlessly drive in the rain.

It’s my first night back in town. I drive by the Quick Trip where I used to work, turn right onto the street where my first girlfriend lived. (Does she still live there? I should see if she’s on Facebook.) I drive past my high school, and I can hear them cheering at the football game. They don’t care that it’s raining. They don’t care about anything. At seventeen, the world is infinite, and anything is possible. I pull into the Starbucks, rush through the rain, and slip on some mud. I fall right on my ass. A few college-aged hipster kids are smoking cigarettes and laughing at me.

“I have a rare genetic disease that fucks up my balance, assholes,” I want to say but don’t. I walk inside tracking mud as I go. There’s just enough change in my pocket for a cup of coffee. It tastes burnt so I have to pour in a shitton of sugar. I hate Starbucks coffee. When I sit down, there is a group of twenty-something girls sitting in from of me. One is blonde and so pale, she’s almost albino. One has golden brown skin and a shaved head. One is a tall red head with jeans that are so skinny, I wonder if she had them sewn on.

“So, like, it’s really existential, you know? Like I just don’t know if people are ready for my art,” Skinny Jeans says.

“I disagree,” Shaved Head interrupts.

“I think New York is the best place for you. You should call my friend, Cupcake. She’s a performance artist who lives in Brooklyn with, like, five other artists. She’ll help you find your tribe.”

“You should totally go for it.” Albino Girl’s opinion is essential. “Your art is unique enough. You could really make it.” I take a sip of my burnt coffee.

“But should I just drop out of school?” Skinny Jeans asks. “My parents are paying all of that tuition.”

“They will understand,” Albino Girl says as she puts her hand on Skinny Jeans’s shoulder. “You have to follow your dream.”

“No, you don’t,” I want to say. “It will probably be a disaster. You’ll waste fifteen years of your life waiting tables and drinking PBR at art gallery openings only to move back to your childhood room at thirty-seven when you realize you’re never going to make it. And your father with be in a wheelchair, and you won’t be far behind. And no one will give a shit that your art is existential.”

But I don’t say any of this because they are happy and hugging. So I throw my almost full cup of coffee into the trash and make my way back out into the rain. Maybe Mom and Dad will want to watch a movie.

Sara Crawford is a writer and musician from Marietta, Georgia. She has an MFA from the University of New Orleans, and her play, THE SPINS, was a finalist in the 2011 Essential Theatre Playwriting Contest. She is the author of an upcoming young adult urban fantasy series.

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