Need A Ride?

He slowed to a halt and peered out the window as he asked the fateful question:

“Need a ride.”

I shook my head, my arms folded and my eyes not meeting his.

“It’s cold,” he said, his arm out the open window.

I shook my head again, “It’s not.”

I started walking, and he followed slowly, his old truck louder than the sound of my foot steps, in the crunchy snow.

“Haley, come on,” he said, I turned to face him, “I’m sorry okay. I just. I thought. I thought he was hurting you.”

“It didn’t need to end like that,” I reminded him.

He nodded looking down, “I know. I just didn’t want to see you get hurt.”

The sides of my mouth started pulling into a smile.

He caught it and asked again, “Need a ride.”

I nodded, “Yeah. Thanks. Is there a heater in there?”

“Yeah. Last time I checked.”

I ran through the head lights and opened the door. Only to find that the inside of the car was just as cold as the outside.

“It’s broken though,” he laughed as I buckled my seat belt.

It had almost been a week since he moved in next door. And I still hadn’t gotten his name. I felt embarrassed to ask, since he knew mine. Which meant he cared enough to find out and I didn’t.

I shook the thought out. It’s a simple question that you ask someone you don’t know. It shows you care. Or at least you want them to think you care. Sometimes people make you care when in reality they couldn’t care less about you.

Only I did care. And I think he did too.

“I never got your name,” I say looking out the side window. Watching the melted snow slide off.

“It’s Ethan.”

I smiled, “Thank you Ethan. For standing up for me. It meant a lot.”

He smiled his eyes shifting over to me, “No, problem. In a town like this, we’ve gotta stick together. Or else nothing will work.”

Don’t I know that. If only every person thought like Ethan then maybe this town would stand a chance.

But right now, staring at it. All I can picture is it turning into one of those ghost towns.

Broken houses, weeds. The table set for dinner, but nothing sitting there.

And it scares me more than anything.

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