Jawbreaker

By Rijn Collins

I never understood those lyrics.
       Jordan was singing them when his mum drove me home. His mum had red fingernails that danced across the steering wheel and I was watching them as he sang, never a frown, with golden brown.
       I was frowning; at Jordan’s mum, at her heels on the pedals and her mouth chewing gum. Red nails, red heels, shiny lips chewing and she never checked her blind spot.
       You should always check your blind spot.
       I listened to him, golden brown, texture like sun, and I thought, he gets to sing.
       Why does he get to sing?
       I know what you do in the back seat. You hold your hands under your thighs and you take a deep breath and you count the cars that slam past. You count the red ones and the green ones and the black ones and the blue ones and if they don’t match, if you can’t pair them in colours like the jawbreakers you’re not supposed to eat before dinner, then you’ll crash, and you’ll burn, and everyone in your family will die.
       You really need to count.
       And when you run out of fingers, you start again.
       The red ones and the green ones and the black and the blue.
       Jordan kept singing. I tried to count for both of us but it was his mum driving and even though she had red fingers I thought I should still count her safe.
       ‘Jordan.’
       Golden brown, never a frown.
       ‘Jordan! How are you keeping the car safe?’
       His face, when he turned. His face, with an expression I knew I never wanted to see again.
       ‘Huh?’
       ‘This car…how do you keep your mum safe in the car if you’re singing? How do you count her safe?’
       His hand slid off the arm rest.
       ‘I don’t.’
       I reached for his arm but he moved toward the door.
       ‘She knows how to drive. It’s nothing to do with me.’
       He looked back out the window but his hand stayed off the arm rest, like he didn’t want his skin touching mine. He sang quietly now, under his breath, and I tried to listen, but I already had my hands full.
       The red ones and the green ones and the black and the blue.
 
 
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