Briana Albergaria is a being of many creative passions and writing just happens to be one of them, albeit the more prominent of most. A native of Massachusetts, and a student of Full Sail University, it is no understatement to say she has been putting her life into her writing.
Being an avid reader, gamer, Netflix binge viewer, mythology enthusiast, and overall enjoyer of the telling of tales in many forms she hopes to one day reach her dreams of entertaining the world with her words.
“I’m usually not like this,” I said towards the driver while fiddling with the seatbelt strapped to my waist meant to keep me safe as I sat in the passenger’s seat of this stranger’s car. Whether the stranger was some deranged murderer looking for a victim or kind citizen just trying to help I still wasn’t sure. He had picked me up from the side of the road a couple of minutes ago and besides asking me where I was going and why I was there no other words had been spoken until now. Heck, even the music was playing at low volume almost as if he was focusing more on his thoughts than wanting to drown them out, but I didn’t blame him considering my ragged appearance and the amount of fidgeting making me look like some kind of drugged up bum probably wasn’t making anything better.
The car was a nice newer model, one that shimmered in the sunlight screaming for attention with its new paintjob as it flew down the highway at the speed limit perfectly even though the highway was practically empty in the far hours of the night, somewhere around ten at night. It was clean and well kept, even had that new car smell with the seats heated and everything. It almost made me feel bad just for sitting there.
After another long awkward moment of silence, I spoke up again, this time turning my head to face him. “So, where were you going?”
There was that silence again. Wasn’t it the driver who was supposed to be asking the hitchhiker all the questions? You’d think the driver who just picked up a possibly dangerous stranger would want to know a little bit about them. When I had almost lost all hope of having a conversation though, he answered.
“Fairview? Nice place.” Sure, the conversation was still a bit awkward, but anything was better than the awkward silence that they sat in earlier. The silence had been unsettling, and if these were going to be the last few moments I’d rather spend them blissfully distracted and unaware than sitting in silence. His response was a small nod, but he seemed rather distracted.
“Why did you pick me up?” I finally asked, not wanting to allow another moment of silence, but unlike before he seemed to be taking his time thinking about the question rather than just not speaking.
This time I allowed that moment of silence, the awkward feeling replaced with a small sense of curiosity, but eventually, he answered. “My daughter was killed while hitchhiking not too long ago. She was all I had. She wasn’t much different from you, and when I saw you standing there I couldn’t just leave you there. Not with a clear conscience.” The silence that fell onto the car was a different kind of silence now. The kind of silence that comes with giving and receiving hard news.
“I’m sorry for your loss.”
“It’s alright. The world is a dangerous place.”
“Shouldn’t you be listening to your own advice? You are the one who picked up a stranger.”
“When you’ve reached a point in your life such as mine, risks tend not to seem as risky.”
“Care to elaborate?”
“I’ve tried all I could to make up for my loss. I’ve drowned my sorrows in any way you can imagine.” He began before stopping suddenly as if realizing what he had admitted. “I don’t know why I’m telling you any of this. I haven’t even told my wife.” He trailed off.
“People have always told me I’m easy to talk to, and its easier to explain your troubles to a stranger than a loved one.” I explained.
He seemed to be contemplating what I said before he spoke, “I’ve tried every method, but nothing fills the hole I feel waking up every day without her. I know all the dangers in this, and am aware of the risk, but I just feel so empty.”
“Empty, like everything around me is muffled into a silence, but I hate this silence. I’m forced to hear my own thoughts. My own memories haunting me, and my own faults.”
It was my turn to become silent for a moment. “I know.” I turned my head away from the man and out the window, watching as the sign for my exit passed over our heads and my eyes shifted to an inky pool of black orbs. The silence that followed afterward was the longest of them all.
The next morning, I was driving down the highway feeling much better than I had yesterday. I was no longer fidgeting, nor did I look sleep deprived, but felt refreshed. I looked back for a second at the lifeless body that laid in the back seat before looking ahead at the road. I noticed in the rearview mirror that I held a bit of blood at the corner of my lips. “God, don’t you just hate silence?” I said while wiping my lip as I sped down the road blasting the radio and watching the sign Exiting Fairview Shores pass by.