Cold Night Under The Streetlight

Contributor: Joshua L Hawkins

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“Come on, come on.” Eli said and twisted the key in the ignition again. The engine of the old car sputtered and died like a sneeze cut off in the throat. A soft cloud of steam rose from the hood of the car in the frigid night.
“You have got to be kidding me.” Julia said from the passenger seat. She pulled her large coat tighter around herself to try to keep warm.
“I swear, every single time I think I have this thing fixed it goes and screws up again.” Eli said and slammed the heel of his hand into the outer edge of the steering wheel.
“So, what do we do now? Julia asked. She pulled a cigarette from her purse and lit it.
Eli gave her a stare from across the car. “Smoking? Seriously Jules?”
“Yes seriously you moron. It’s midnight, and I’m stuck in the freezing cold because my boyfriend’s piece of shit car won’t start. Who cares if your precious car gets smoke smell in it, I don’t.”
Eli reached over, and snatched the cigarette from her lips. “I don’t care about the car.” He said, and looked at her abdomen. “I care about the baby.”
Julia sighed. “I’ve already told you what I’m doing with the baby.” She said, and withdrew another cigarette.
“So that’s it then? I don’t get any say so in whether our child is born or not?” He shifted in his seat so he was facing her more than before.
“You aren’t the one who has to get fat, and walk around with a five to ten pound lump in your stomach for nine months. Damn right you don’t have a say so.” She said, and then with a grunt of disdain she lit a second cigarette.
Eli looked over at her baffled as she took a few long drags on the cigarette.
“What?” She asked, and held up her hands. “You want me to be a house wife, or something Eli? You want us to get married, and move in together, and take care of this baby? No Eli. That isn’t what I’m going to do, get that through your head. I don’t care how nice of a guy you are, marriage is out of the question.”
“At least think about it Jules, I mean we could raise this baby together.”
“No.” She said, and took another drag of the cigarette. “I’m only twenty-two years old Eli. I haven’t had my share of fun. If I have this baby now I get to kiss all that away.”
“So?” He asked. “What is a few years of getting yourself hopelessly drunk, and sleeping with three dozen guys you’ll never remember, compared to raising a child. A child Jules, a child that we brought into this world and that we should be responsible for. I don’t want you to get rid of it. Keep it, please.”
She finished her cigarette, and looked over at him. Their eyes met for a moment before she turned away, and sighed. “I can’t Eli. I just can’t do it. I’m not ready for this kind of thing. I know that has to be the most clichéd response to getting pregnant, but I’m just not ready for this.” She wiped at her eyes before the tears could spill down.
“At least think about it, okay? I mean you don’t have to make a decision right now do you?” Eli asked.
She shook her head and pulled her bundled coats closer. “I’m sorry Eli. The decision has been made.” Her hand grasped at the door handle for a moment and then without another hesitation she opened the door and climbed from the car. The lone streetlight above them bathed her in bright yellow light.
“You don’t have to do this alone Jules.” Eli said from the driver’s seat.
“It may have taken two of us to make this baby.” She said, and leaned down to look at him once more. “But it only takes one of us to fix the mistake.” She stood straight, and let the door swing closed in front of her with a loud clang. Taking a deep freezing breath she backed away from the car, and turned towards the vehicle’s rear. Then she started walking, tiny puffs of steam emitting from her lips as she breathed in the dark cold night. Behind her Eli stared through the icy rear window of the old beat up car.
“Nothing is a mistake if you can love it.” He said to the empty cab, and then he turned back to the front of the car, and tried the ignition again. It turned over once more before dying in a gargling wheeze of smoke, and then the silence of the dark cold night fell upon him.

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Joshua Hawkins began writing in ninth grade during a creative writing class. His love for expression through words spread throughout the rest of his schooling and now he attends Full Sail University for his Bachelor's in Creative Writing for Entertainment.
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