Love StoryBy: Lauren Layne
I was eight years old when I gave my heart to Reece Sullivan.
I was eighteen when he shattered it into a million pieces.
Now, I wish I could tell you I was twenty-eight when I next saw him, because that’d be sweet, right? Ten years in between each of our most crucial…encounters. (And yes, you absolutely should visualize air quotes there.) Alas.
I was twenty-four when our paths crossed again, and they did so in the worst, most Are you freaking kidding me with this?! sort of way.
As in, my well-meaning but completely oblivious family somehow maneuvered us into taking a two-week road trip together.
Yes, that’s right. Me. My ex. Two weeks. One car.
Sounds tricky, right? Um, respectfully, You have no idea.
Did I mention that one of the first stops on the road trip was to see my then-boyfriend?
But, see, sometimes…
Sometimes life doesn’t work out the way you planned when you’re eight.
Sometimes life involves two broken hearts, a flat tire, an honest-to-God flood, and a few seedy motel rooms along the way.
My name is Lucy Hawkins.
His name is Reece Sullivan.
And this is our story.
I scratch my nose and stare up at the homemade sign where the g looks like a pube and the l looks suspiciously like a penis.
“Your handiwork?” I ask my brother.
Craig, older brother by fourteen months, drapes an arm over my shoulder as we take in the house where we grew up. “Brandi helped. You like?”
I purse my lips. “I don’t suppose there’s a statute of limitations on how long that nickname gets to stick around?”
“Hell no. It’s a classic,” he says, going around to the back of his truck and hauling my suitcase out.
Now, lest you think I, or anyone in my family is a Star Trek fan, I’ll stop you right there. We’re not. I mean, like most Americans, we have at least a passing knowledge of the sci-fi classic, but that’s the extent of it.
But the roots of the oh-so-flattering nickname go back to my first days home from the hospital when my camera-happy mother took a picture of me waving my hand, fingers in the Live long and prosper V. Factor in the way my super-straight, dark hair fell over my forehead, my thick eyebrows, and…
Yeah, okay. I totally resembled a mini Leonard Nimoy (rest in peace).
Hence the nickname Spock. It used to drive me crazy back when I was pubescent and trying to be cool, but right now I find myself grinning at the ugly sign my brother made and what it represents.
“You know, in gratitude for me driving four hours round trip to bring you home, the least you could have done is let your hot roommate tag along,” Craig says.
“She’s a lesbian,” I counter, pulling out my laptop bag and the Victoria’s Secret gift-with-purchase tote that’s stuffed to the brim with makeup, flat iron, and no small number of tampons.
“Even better,” Craig says reverently. “Her girlfriend could have come too.”
“You know you’re twenty-five now, right?” I say, shutting the car door. “A little old to be lusting after cliché girl-on-girl action.”
My brother shakes his head. “Some things never go out of style, Spock. Also, I repeat: ‘four-hour drive.’ I gave up Orioles tickets.”
“Your sacrifice is noted,” I say, pinching his cheek as we head up the bumpy walkway toward the familiar blue front door, the squeaky wheel of one of my suitcases protesting mightily.
“And in my defense,” I argue, “it’s not like I planned yesterday to be the day my car finally went to car purgatory.”
“Really? Because the way I see it, when you buy a car on Craigslist that has a hundred and twenty thousand miles and is single-handedly responsible for destroying the ozone layer, you sort of risk it breaking down every day.”
“Let’s not speak ill of the dearly departed.”
Craig’s pretty much right though. See, I thought I could get through graduate school without a car the way I did when I was an undergrad. But Virginia Tech, while pretty fabulous, isn’t exactly NYU when it comes to public transportation. The tuition for my MSBA in hospitality and tourism management was mostly courtesy of a buttload of student loans, but books and food and the roof over my head were all on me. There hadn’t been much money left over for a decent car, so I’d made do.
And really, the poor little Subaru did better than Craig’s giving it credit for. But yesterday it decided that it couldn’t make the two-hour journey back to my hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, after all. And the mechanic I’d paid an extra fifty bucks to come to me confirmed it wouldn’t be making any journeys. Ever.