Read on for a preview! If you’re interested in reading the whole thing for free, consider joining my review team!
Annette’s favorite part of Fuchsia Fireball’s new song amped up, where the cymbals crashed into the bridge with Troy’s smooth tenor soaring through the transition. Annette’s dad cranked the dial to the left to turn the volume down to a whisper.
Annette’s bobbing head swiveled as she tore her eyes away from the road for a second. The rusted maroon 1988 Dodge Aries she was driving puttered to a stop. “Hey, I like that song.”
“You need to concentrate.”
Her father’s hands clenched in his lap, and Annette could practically hear his teeth grinding against each other. She wasn’t great at the driving thing, but the distraction of her favorite band made her even worse. Fuchsia Fireball. They were all that mattered.
The car gasped and stalled in the middle of an intersection. Annette threw herself against the red upholstered seat, which looked fuchsia depending on the light and time of day. “This is so stupid. No one drives stick anymore. I’m never going to get this.”
A car swerved around them as it passed and honked the horn, and her father flinched. Annette pushed down the clutch with her left foot and wrestled with the gearshift until it ground into first. The car revved to life, and she checked the speedometer to make sure the car remained into at five under the speed limit. That’s as fast as her father would let her go.
Through clenched teeth, her father said, “You will learn this because this is the car you have to drive.” He was trying to be so patient even though his eyes were wide behind his glasses. But his patience was often tested as a college professor. He looked the part, too, with his white beard and skin so pale, like he’d been holed up in the college library 24-7.
“Ten and two, let’s go.” Her father patted her leg and then flattened his hand against the glove compartment as Annette hit the brakes too abruptly.
Annette inspected her own hands as she gripped the wheel. Her brown arms, the perfect
meld of her father’s white skin and her mother’s black, were adorned with a stack of black and pink jelly bracelets and her silver Fuchsia Fireball ring, which she never took off. It was limited edition merch, and she had to beg her parents to get it for her last birthday, her 15th birthday. Annette blew a stream of air up at her bangs, which were always in her face. Her mom, a lawyer, had perfectly polished hair and was constantly trying to smooth Annette’s curly hair out of her eyes.
“Please stop daydreaming, honey. You’re going to be late for your bus.” Her dad’s tone
had changed from strained patience to pleading.
Annette pulled into the parking lot of her high school, narrowly missing oncoming traffic
that had the right-of-way while her father slammed on the invisible brake on his side of the car. It was weird being at school on a Saturday morning. The parking lot was deserted except for the coaches’ cars.
In a wave of baby blue, members of the track team climbed onto the awaiting bus. Many
of them Annette didn’t recognize. They looked like upperclassmen. Her school was so large that she only kept tabs on the people in her sophomore class, and she couldn’t even name all of them if they were lined up. She spotted one of her fellow throwers, a senior named Redd, and hurried out of the car.
“Throw well.” Her father came around the car to hug her, and she allowed him an
awkward side hug before she grabbed her bag and power walked to the rumbling bus.