Live in the Moment

by Gabriella Burk 


Melanie heaved a breath and kicked her feet up on the dashboard, the sun beating down on her from the sunroof of her boyfriend’s Rover as some indie song played quietly on the radio. It seemed fitting, almost, as her summer had been something straight out of a Lana Del Ray album. She let loose a soft sigh, her breath going into the glass bottle of Coca Cola that sat at her bright pink painted lips.

“Babe,” her boyfriend, Seth, called from outside where he was pumping gasoline. Melanie hummed in response. “Can you get me a Twinkie from the snack bag?” he asked. Melanie rolled her eyes and got out of her comfortable position to twist around behind her seat to grab the snack bag. The couple had decided to do what they had been dreaming of doing for a while; they were going out on an adventure, just driving and driving until they called it quits and went back home. They had crossed state lines just an hour before and were far enough away that they could feel the stress start to leave their bodies, even if it was only temporary.

They would have to go home eventually; their parents had only given them a week and a half to get the wanderlust out of their systems. But it was enough, and there had been debate between the couple about if they should even return at all. Maybe they wouldn’t, maybe this would be their new life, just some hippies who wanted nothing more than to explore the broad canvas that was the United States and sleep under the stars. Sadly, that was just a dream. After their week of driving, Melanie was going to college in Colorado, and Seth, well, Seth was staying in Oklahoma.

“Here,” Melanie said, sticking the packaged Twinkie out the window to her boyfriend, who wiped the sweat from his brow. “You know, I feel like this would be a good storyline for a movie,” she said looking out the window. “You, me, the open road. If we were criminals, we could be just like Bonnie and Clyde.”

Seth laughed and shook his head. “Don’t they die at the end?”

Melanie crinkled her nose. “I mean, we could do it differently. I just like the idea; romance,running from the law and being madly in love,” she said, her voice lilting slightly higher at the dream of being in love like that.

“What if they weren’t in love at all?”

Seth asked her, finishing up with gassing the car up and hanging the nozzle back into the gas pump. Melanie didn’t say anything to her boyfriend until he came back around and got in the driver’s seat.

“What do you mean if they weren’t in love? Everyone knows that Bonnie and Clyde loved one another.” Melanie argued, her shoulders tensing up. Why would he even bring that up? Everyone knew that Bonnie and Clyde were crazy in love.

Seth shrugged his shoulders. “They weren’t buried together, and on top of that, Bonnie was married to another guy,” he said. “I think she even had a tattoo of their names on her somewhere.”

“It doesn’t matter, they loved each other. And the only reason they aren’t buried together is because Bonnie’s mom hated Clyde and didn’t want her daughter buried next to him,” she said with a sniff and got her feet off of the dash as Seth started driving once again down that old dirt road. She wasn’t entirely sure where they were, from what the signs said they were somewhere in New Mexico and so far, Melanie was not impressed. It was just as boring as Oklahoma; the only thing that had her slightly astounded were the mountains that towered in the horizon, but for right now, things were still flat and barren, and those mountains were miles away. But then again, they had just gone through the Oklahoma Panhandle.

“Why do you know so much about this?” Seth asked, amusement lacing his every word. Melanie just shrugged her shoulders and stared out the window; she just wanted something, anything to happen to her so that she could at least have a story to tell her kids one day. But that was probably never going to happen. She turned around in her seat and grabbed an oatmeal cream pie from the bag of goodies and took a small nibble from it. The sun shone in the car, beating on her already sunburnt skin as she stared out the window, her sock covered feet tucked firmly beneath her.

“Do you ever wish for more?” she asked wistfully, watching the mountains start to creep closer to her.

“I mean, not really. I have everything I really need. I have my family, you, a pretty great opportunity waiting for me when I get back, what more could I ask for?” he asked, lacing their fingers together. Melanie refrained from pursing her lips. Seth’s “great” opportunity was that he was going to work on a weed farm. It wasn’t that great of an opportunity if you asked Melanie.

“I guess,” she mumbled, biting her bottom lip back and chewing on it slightly. “Where are we going?” she asked, changing the subject, not really wanting to talk about their future any more than she had to. This trip was all about living in the moment.

“I was thinking we could go to Albuquerque and check out some of the stuff around there,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. Melanie smiled and leaned back in her seat, staring through the sunroof at the clouds above. Albuquerque couldn’t be too bad. There had to be something interesting there, something to explore or talk about to people when she came back from this trek.

“I think I can handle something like that. Although, I really want to see some mountains and potentially go hiking. And maybe find some kind of abandoned, spooky place that we could check out and see if it’s haunted or something. That could be cool.” The couple fell silent, just letting the music fill the car for a few hours, but every so often they would spark conversation.

Before Melanie knew it, Seth was pulling in front of a small motel and shutting off the car. “Wanna stay here for the night and tomorrow we can keep going?” he asked, looking around at the ramshackle building. “It’s the only hotel for the next few miles and I’m tired.”

Melanie crinkled her nose at the place. “I can drive a little if you want me to,” she offered softly, knowing full well that Seth wouldn’t let her. This stupid Rover was like his baby, he didn’t let anyone drive it, no matter what.

“No, no, we can stay here for the night, it’s fine,” Seth said, shutting off the car. Melanie bit her lip; the entire motel just looked a little shady, and while she wanted adventure and romance, she really didn’t think that bed bugs were a part of that. The entire place was just gross, and Melanie already knew just looking at it that she was not going to be getting any sleep while they were here. Seth quickly went into the building to secure the couple a room, leaving Melanie standing in the middle of the empty parking lot. She let out a soft sigh and just tugged her long, green dyed hair into a bun at the top of her head before she started grabbing the things that they would need for the night. Maybe she would take a shower, depending on how disgusting the bathroom here was. She shouldered the duffle bag that held all of their belongings combined.

Seth stepped outside and smiled at his girlfriend before he pointed to one of the doors on the second floor of the motel. He quickly locked the Rover and headed upstairs, once again leaving Melanie alone in the parking lot. She shook her head and just followed him up the stairs, trying her best to not be annoyed with her stupid boyfriend.

Sometimes, she didn’t fully understand how she wound up with him, much less being friends with him in the first place. Seth and Melanie were just so different in so many ways. Yet, all of their combined friends thought that they were the perfect match so they figured they would give it a shot and date. To Melanie’s surprise, the date hadn’t been that bad. Seth had made her laugh, he listened to her ramble about her crazy interests and as time went by, the two fell together easily. Sometimes, Melanie wondered if Seth really was the one for her. It was one of the biggest reasons why she couldn’t seem to push herself into sleeping with him.

He was expecting her to soon, which was understandable. They’ve been together for two years now and the most action Seth ever got was a heavy make out session. Melanie just didn’t feel that zing that she thought she should feel with someone before she gave that part of herself over. She shook her head. She wasn’t going to think about that, no, she was just going to try her best to be happy and live in the moment.

With that, she headed up to the room and set the things down on the dingy bed as the shower turned on in the bathroom.

Melanie pushed a smile onto her face and carefully sat on the bed when Seth’s phone started to buzz. Shrugging her shoulders, she just grabbed the phone. It was probably just Seth’s mother checking in on them, as she had been blowing up Seth’s phone the entire time they had been gone.

Sure enough, it was Seth’s mother. Without another thought, she unlocked Seth’s phone to text the woman back.

I miss you baby, the text read and a picture of a pair of boobs were underneath and well… they were not Seth’s mother’s, that was for damn sure.

Melanie’s vision went red, her face burned with anger as she slammed the phone down on the table and marched into the bathroom without another thought.

“Seth McCoy!” she shouted, slamming the door wide open. “I miss you baby?” she snarled, pushing the shower curtain back to glare at her naked boyfriend.

“What the fuck Mel?” Seth shouted, trying to cover himself up.

“What the fuck?” Melanie shouted right back. “You’re cheating on me?”

Seth’s face slackened for a hint of a moment before it hardened completely and he glared at the green haired girl. “I mean if I’m not going to get shit from you, I’m going to have to get it from someone else or else I’ll get fucking blue balls.”

Melanie stared at her boyfriend in disbelief, her jaw slackened slightly. “So, you’re saying that, since I’m not willing to put out, you’re going to fuck other people? Do you think that is going to make me want to have sex with you? That’s not how this works, Seth.”

“You wouldn’t have found out if you hadn’t been snooping in my phone,” he argued and shut the water off. Melanie glared at him.

“I’m ready to go home, now.” she ground out slowly, trying her best to not just punch Seth in the jaw.

“We’re leaving in the morning,” he told her, giving her a look. “I’m tired.”

“I don’t care, I want to go home right fucking now.”

“No,” Seth said smugly. “We’re leaving tomorrow unless you want to just walk home.”

Melanie glared at him. “Just finish your goddamn shower,” she hissed, shutting the shower curtain and headed out of the bathroom. Melanie was fuming. Never in her life she had felt so betrayed. It was humiliating to say the least and now she was stuck here with Seth and had no way to go home without relying on that piece of shit. Before Melanie could give it another thought, she took the bags she had set on the bed, grabbed Seth’s wallet from where it set it on the nightstand and that stupid phone, she pocketed them both before she looked around and smiled when she found them. Those stupid keys for that stupid Rover that he loved more than he ever loved her. With her arms full of their things, she marched out of the motel room and down to the pristine black 2017 Land Range Rover.

Melanie smirked as she loaded it back up and got in the front seat. She ran her hands over the fine leather steering wheel, pushed the key into the ignition and before she could change her mind, sped off, throwing Seth’s phone out the window once she hit the highway and relishing in the way that it shattered against the pavement.

For the first time on this trip,

Melanie was finally just going to live in the moment.

Artist Information:

Author: Gabriella Burk

Hometown: Oklahoma City

Major: Multidisciplinary Studies

Year: Senior