Monday, August 3, 2009

A Moment Ruins Forever

Note: I wrote this for a writing contest on Fiction Press, the prompt was "Forever means nothing when you're living in the moment." We'll see towards the middle of the month how I faired! It's a little dark, and over a PG rating to forewarn you.
“Forever means nothing when you’re living in the moment”

I learned this about a half a year ago when Johnny took me for a ride in his beaten down truck. He gave me a lift after school and took the long way home. It was the ride that changed my life. I learned that afternoon what “the moment” felt like. “The moment” felt like a battered truck bumping along on dirt roads, dust invading my lungs and the strained heartbeat from the fear of getting caught.


I stood in the bus lot with my books held close to my chest, thinking that if I wished hard enough, the buses would come back and I wouldn’t be stranded here at the school. I heard the doors open behind me and I peaked. Johnny McMillan walked out jangling his keys. I pressed my books closer to my chest and my feet firmer to the ground. McMillan was one of those idiotic farm boys who never talked in class because he never knew what was going on. His long hair annoyed me, and his plaid shirts always smelled like manure.

He didn’t pay any attention to me, the only living soul in the parking lot. He opened the door to his country-boy truck and stood on the running board. He called towards me, but I ignored him. He couldn’t possibly be calling me. He called again. He finally yelled “Hey Smartie” and I looked up.

“Do you want a lift?” It would be the first time he persuaded me without trying.


My books remained close to my chest as Johnny’s truck ungracefully rolled over pot holes and gravel. I think I was trying to hold my vitals in since they were going awry. Eric would hate me if he found out I got a ride from another boy.

I don’t know why I took the ride. I hate Johnny and his kind. Looking at us now, we are so different. He is wore dark, dirty blue jeans and a white t-shirt. His brown hair went down to his shoulders. He had the window opened and he was leaning on the door with one hand on the steering wheel. He was the epitome of relaxation and devil-may-care. I wore a tan skirt with an expensive designer blue t-shirt. My shoes were sandals, and my hair was braided. I was clean; he was dirty. He was uneducated; and I was going to Harvard. On opposites side of the car were opposite people.

“Aren’t you going to ask where I live?” I finally asked, wondering if he forgot I was in the car.

“I already know” he said, his attitude almost meeting mine.

I looked at him with surprised look on my faceand he returned my look with a chuckle.

“I did yard work there once,”

“Oh…” I looked out the window. He drove on some back road and the trees were going by at a fast pace. The speedometer said we were going 65. My hands clenched my books further. Johnny noticed the small movement. He looked at me, then back out the window, then back at me again.

“Hey relax. Do you want me to slow down?”

I relaxed because he told me to. I relaxed because he sounded like he cared about how I felt. He remembered me and my house, and he cared about me despite the fact that we’ve never spoken. He noticed me. That’s when I felt it. The moment. How fast the car was going, how persuasive and caring Johnny’s voice sounded, how I wasn’t supposed to be doing this. I felt wild.

When I got home I called Eric.

“The bus was late.” I told him.

I thought of that ride all night. I thought of how in that moment, the future was too far ahead for me to even think about. Eventually, my worrisome mother and protective boyfriend melted away. My chemistry homework, and soon, the point of the ride melted away. I had never felt that way before. I had never done anything so uncalculated. I had never cared so little.


I asked Johnny to give me a ride home every day after that. I told Eric that the bus picked up a new stop and I would be a couple minutes late every day. I don’t know where I got the courage to lie.

Johnny and I started talking more and I began to see past his backwards upbringing. I don’t really know what I saw, but I didn’t see the same white trash I did before.

One day while taking me home, he stopped at the marsh and parked.

“Why do you want me to give you rides every day?”

I felt like he was mad at me, like he hated giving me rides. “Well, so I get home early? The bus takes too long… I’ve told you that.”

He gave me a sideways glance of doubt.

“If it’s too much….”

“Why don’t you just tell me the truth?” His persuasive voice unlocked me. It was then that I realized that I loved Johnny, if only for everything he represented.

“Adventure. I like them because it makes me feel like I’m human and I can do crazy things.”

Before I knew it, he had his hands in my hair, tangling my life like the fine strands in his rough fingers. He crushed my dreams when his lips crushed into mine. And I loved it so much.


“Forever right?” Eric said as we were about to get off the phone that night.

“Forever and ever baby,” I said, hoping that my voice held the same conviction it had before Johnny changed my world.

In retrospect, Eric and I were the perfect couple. We were the couple that wore nice dresses and button down tops to school in sophisticated pastel colors. We were the golden couple at school, all the teachers loved us. We were both supposed to compete to be valedictorian of our class and then go to college. In our parent’s eyes, we would grow up, get married, be rich and successful with three beautiful children.

In retrospect, I loved Eric because of everything he represented. We were perfect life mates. He represented everything I loved and followed; rules, family, school, future. But those weren’t the things I wanted; adventure, carelessness, strength, life… that moment. That was Johnny.


Slowly the transformation started. It began with the lies to my parents and boyfriend. Lies about things I never did and friends I never had, just so I can have an excuse to be with Johnny. It was the times we hung out in his room and made out. It was the first time I was touched so sensuously.

Then came the parties at his barn and the private parties between us and a bottle of liquor in his truck at the marsh. It was all the people that stopped recognizing me as Ms. Perfect at the parties.

It was Johnny teaching me how to feel the world in ways I never knew that the transformation grew on.


It’s 7 o’clock. To my parents I’m at the humane society. To Johnny and I, I’m on his mattress, lying next to him, facing him, lips passionately teasing the other’s. His hands inched their way up my shirt like they do every time, but this time I didn’t stop him. It has been a month since I first tasted Johnny, another since I first tasted his life. Each day Johnny has awoken me more and more. I wanted him to make this final.

I looked into his hazel eyes and felt his long hair tickle my cheek. I used to hate that hair, but now it creates a veil of privacy that I feel safe in. I look at him tenderly and run my fingers through it.

Eric is far from my mind as Johnny unbuttons my pants, keeping his eyes locked with mine. My parents are nowhere as he kisses me on the inside of my thighs. The future is too far away to think about as he touches every inch of me. What did any of this matter when you had life touching you in places you’ve never known you could feel in before?

It all changed for good when Johnny McMillan took my virginity. Forever was out of my sight forever from that night on. I was officially addicted to the moment.


I left them a note saying I was leaving.

I packed a suitcase and called Eric.

It was 2am.

I spoke the same way I always used to; calmly, quietly, and with no passion. That’s the language Eric understands.

“I’m breaking up with you. Yes, there is someone else…” I paused for a second. “And he’s fucking me.”

I jumped back into Johnny’s truck. This time I didn’t care if my parents heard his tires across the gravel. I was living in the moment, and the moment was a battered truck bumping along on dirt roads, dust invading my lungs and the strained heartbeat from the fear of getting caught.


I have a large, sweating fountain pop in my hand and a Butterfinger squeezed in between my arm. I am fumbling with a new pack of smokes, trying to get the cellophane off. I’m a little drunk and a lot stoned. It’s a typical lazy Tuesday evening. I finally manage to free a cigarette through my fumbling.

That’s when I see her. I almost don’t. She is sitting in the backseat of a car, leaning over, looking at me. Her elderly, educated, well off looking parents sit in the front, conversing about something. She has a sweet looking face with small blushing lips and small almond shaped eyes with a natural cat like look to them. Her hair is long and soft in a light shining brown color. She is clean cut and perfect looking.

I know her. She is me. Future straight ahead of her with nothing in the way, everything lined up and laid out. How different I am now. I look different, I look like a joke because that’s what I am. I am living at a party house because that’s the only place I could stay after Johnny kicked me out 2 months after I left home. My parents won’t take me back, my college savings are dwindling, and school is something I go to so truancy officers don’t come knocking on my parent’s door. I have nothing to live for anymore but this cigarette I’m hitting and the rum I will mix with my cold mountain dew later. I thought I was going to be getting so much more out of this, not runs to the gas stations late at night for my meal of pop and Butterfingers. Not a dirty floor to sleep on that smells like booze and vomit. This was supposed to be different.

I can’t remember the last time I felt the way I did in Johnny’s truck. Lately it’s all been a blur of constant sickness. There is something living inside me. It’s a clump of guilt, homesickness, the future I lost, and despair. It sticks together like hair and mucus and stays inside me like a hairball I can’t cough up. I never knew how bad I wanted to cough it up until now. I feel like vomiting.

As that girl and I look at each other, I see the life I should have, the life I would have had I not thrown it away. We look at each other, wishing to trade places with the other. I think to her, hoping she will catch my message somehow; “Don’t wish for this. Don’t wish for this. This is not what you want, you lonely, confused, perfect girl. Don’t wish for this. Forever means nothing when you’re living in the moment. And that’s exactly what this is… a moment. But a moment ruins forever.”


  1. Wow, that was really great! Hit the nail right on the head with that one. I'm happy that you're still writing, and that you still post :D Keep going!

  2. Thanks! That means a lot to me! I'm glad you're still reading!