Driving At Night

To celebrate my little sister's upcoming 15th birthday, I thought it right to publish an incredibly well written short story she wrote in late 2019. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Image courtesy of Charlotte Ashcroft (Do check her photography page on Instagram @chazlotphoto).

Chapter 1: Ali

"I dreamt about you again". Nyah said that, although she knew he wouldn't care.

"It doesn't mean anything; it's just a dream." He said, glancing at her as he lay next to her on the stiff hotel mattress; the humidity of Athen's port made it unbearable for him to sleep. The constant noise of the ferries arriving and leaving, announcing themselves every hour, drove him crazy.

She turned to look at him, "I had a dream we were in a silver car driving down the highway at night. It was beautiful. I wish it were real." She said, looking up at the ceiling.

He looked at her; he envied her ability to dream and hope. At times he resented her for it. Ali didn't have that ability; he was too stuck in reality; he couldn't fool his mind the way she did. He sometimes wondered how she could be with someone so different from her.

"That's cool". Ali replied dully.

She looked back at him bemused.

"It's not that I don't care…" He started,

"I know." She said, cutting him off.

She frowned, "it's okay."

He nodded and kissed her. He wondered why she loved him.

"Ali?" She asked.


"What do you want for dinner?"

He hesitated. Ali didn't want to go out; he was tired from the day before. He looked at her, and he could tell she wanted to go out.

"I don't know."

"Let's have a souvlaki."

Ali paused.

"Don't worry, I'll order." She replied giggling at his awkward pause.

Ali watched her mouth move as she spoke Greek to the employee on the other side of the phone. He was envious of her. He thought of his background, a simple African American from Texas. Whilst Nyah, Nyah was a globetrotter, she had moved from country to country all her life. She was half Greek and had learnt how to speak the language at an early age. Although born in Chicago, her accent was different.

It made you feel loved, even when she got mad.

"Okay, I ordered. We'll pick it up in 30 minutes." She smiled.

That smile.

He kissed her again. Ali's life before Nyah had been sad and lonely. He met her when they were fifteen; he thought of himself as a fifteen-year-old and cringed. Nyah claimed she fell in love the first time they met, but Ali never believed her. Fifteen-year-old Ali was unlikeable, full of anger. Not at anyone in particular, just at the world. He hated himself for who he was back then.

"You okay?" She asked with concern in her voice.

"Yeah." He said and smiled, "it's just hot in here."

She shrugged, "blame global warming", she said as she opened the window.

Nyah was like that; she always made jokes to make you laugh yet remind you of the world's injustices.

"How long are we staying in the city?"

"Three days, and then we'll go to the island."

Ali nodded. He was dreading going to the island, it'll be the first time meeting her family, and he wasn't sure how to act.

"Don't worry; they'll love you." She reassured him and walked across the room to hug him.

"Let's leave soon, okay?"


She disappeared into the Hotel bathroom and turned on the shower. Ali got off the bed and turned off the TV. He grabbed his phone from the side table and read aloud "Seven Messages from Mum." He picked up his glasses and read them one by one. It was the standard, asking how he was and what they were doing. Ali laughed at himself and responded to her. He sent the message and put his phone into his jean pocket; his sudden craving for drugs gripped him.

Ali frowned quickly, for he knew that Nyah would never forgive him.

Ali used to be an addict. He stopped for Nyah, and he got clean for her.

Ali looked back on waking up in the hospital, watching his mother pray for him, with his heartbeat ringing in his ear. He remembered when Nyah visited; she barely looked at him. Her brown hair was greasy and tangled; her eyes had prominent bags under them. They were bloodshot.

She barely spoke to him, and when she did, she sounded disappointed.

He hated disappointing her; when she felt disappointed, she'd look down at her feet, frown and speak softly.

Nyah walked out of the shower, "should we go?"


Chapter 2: Nyah

They put their shoes on and walked out of the hotel.

Though Piraeus was no longer light, the nightlife Nyah loved had emerged.

The hustle and bustle of the cars, buses, and motorbikes roared down the main roads and onto the horizon.

Nyah adored it.

It didn't make her feel alone; it felt like life was real for her; she took comfort in the music and the cars' sound. It made her feel like she wasn't the only one alive. She looked at Ali and took his hand. He was still such a mystery to her, different from her.

"Do you like it here?" She held her breath; she wanted him to say he liked it.

"It's all right."

She looked up at him and quickly looked down.

She tried to hide her disappointment.

They walked across to the other side of the street. Ali squeezed her hand. She looked at him and said,

"What do you want to do tomorrow?"

"I don't mind." She looked at the ground in awe.

Nyah liked to plan, which contrasted against Ali, who was spontaneous and laidback. Nyah loved and admired him for that, for having the courage to speak out and be his person.

He was beautiful, self-assured, assertive. Nyah could never say this to him. She was too confident, too full of pride, ever to admit he was better than her. She secretly thought he was better than everyone. He was the smartest person she had ever met. A brainiac, but sometimes she wished he'd just shut up.

"Do you want to go to the Acropolis?" She asked eagerly.

"Let's do it."

She beamed.

When Nyah met Ali, she thought he was hilarious, and she automatically liked him. She thought he was perfect. Unfortunately, he wasn't. Ali had many faults, though Nyah refused to see them.

I guess that's just what love does to people.

Nyah's brain would discourage her from being with him, planting seeds of doubt in her mind, but her heart would weed them out.

She was there for him; he was there for her. That was all that mattered.

She loved to romanticize things, especially at night. At that moment, she was imagining walking down a beautiful street, wearing a beautiful dress, with Ali by her side. In reality, however, she was walking down the run-down forgotten backstreets of Piraeus.

She frowned, somewhat disappointed with her reality, but then quickly appreciated everything around her, especially the man by her side.

She smiled at where she thought the moon was.

"Ali, I think the souvlaki will be ready soon."

"Okay, lead the way Nyah."

She looked up at him and saw that look in his eyes that scared her back when she was nineteen—the craving.

She frowned and looked down at the ground.

She remembered everything that happened when he was an addict.

Ali was different. He spoke like a snake. It didn't sound like poetry; his words stung; they hurt more than anything.

She remembered the pain; she got angry again, just like how she felt three years ago. She recalled the sad phone call he had shared with his mother. Nyah didn't feel anything after that. She smiled and looked at him, at how much he changed.

How much he changed for her.

"I can't believe that was three years ago." She said under her breath.

She felt nostalgic, but she didn't miss who she was, neither did he.

They had matured together, despite their occasional falling out.

Nyah stopped in front of the Souvlaki stall.

"Here we are."

Ali looked her in the eye.

At that moment, no words were exchanged, but yet so much was heard.

They both thought about how lucky they were.

They breathed in the air and held the tension, and then let it out.

At that moment, there was no more anger, no more sadness between them. They were finally ready to move on from whom they used to be and start fresh. There was nothing between Nyah and Ali except the sultry, humid Greek summer night.

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