I should not have carpooled this morning.

As much as I love getting some fresh air and having an incredible view of the mountains and the oncoming sunset, the weather's becoming a little too cold for my taste. The conclusion that I should have rode my bike or driven myself becomes more obvious when my messenger bag starts to feel as if I had filled it to the top with bricks and the wind begins to blow so hard it presses up against me as if it were the one trying to keep warm.

I am most likely just going to have to suck it up and deal with this exercise in discomfort for another twenty minutes, although my mind only wants to add to my souring mood; it keeps thinking of all the things I could get done in that amount of time had I only realized walking was a bad idea sooner. I could check my email, go on Facebook, do the rest of the Calculus homework I didn't finish while I was at the Drama Club thing Bebe made me go to... the possibilities are endless.

As to why I cannot simply just call anyone to come and pick me up, Kyle and Becca (who I normally carpool with) had Jazz Band until four, Stan disappeared as soon as the meeting was over, and Token lives on the opposite side of town so I couldn't ask anyone but Bebe, who told me she was riding home with Craig, who didn't have enough room in his car for six people (I think he was taking his sister's friend and Clyde home as well, but I'm not entirely sure; Craig and I don't particularly care for each other so he could have been lying just to keep me out of his hair). And then Mother texted me right after the meeting ended saying she and Father "were going to see Joe Biden speak in Denver and would be back around ten or eleven tonight, depending on if they go out for drinks with some of their friends." And then I remembered I had to work on signs for the Environmental Club's Eco-Friendly Bake Sale happening next week which kept me there until one of the evening janitors shooed me off.

I attempt to mentally salvage the situation. The meeting wasn't a total waste of time, considering Token helped me go over the Weierstrauss substitution, but I could have been working on it in the comfort of my own home (with a nice steaming mug of Earl Grey to boot) and not distracted by twenty or thirty people having conversations around me.

Well, that strategy of looking for the silver lining just went to shit.

Okay, Testaburger, time to focus. You can finish everything and hopefully get in a few hours of sleep if you just manage your time right.

Here's what's on the to-do list for when I get home:

1.) See if any of my scholarship information has come in;

2.) Finish that Calculus worksheet;

3.) Reread the last three chapters of Wuthering Heights and make notes on what might be discussed in class tomorrow;

4.) Find something for dinner;

5.) Do Latin homework (text Kyle or Token or Becca if I need any help);

6.) Type up what has to be addressed at the Student Council meeting tomorrow afternoon; and

7.) Everything else I've forgotten to put on this list.

I don't remember the last time I didn't have a bazillion irons in the fire since entering high school. This was a huge change, considering all I did in middle school was help out with the Yearbook and campaign for breast cancer awareness and softball and violin lessons and sell the fifth-most amount of Girl Scout cookies in the state. And Battle of the Books. And I was Junior Beta Club president. But that was only because for some weird reason we didn't have a Student Council. Which doesn't exactly make sense, seeing as we had one in elementary school.

A sudden gust of wind interrupts my thoughts and blasts my beret off of my head. So, after checking to see that nothing is coming on either side of the road, I sprint across the asphalt after the damned thing. The wind snatches it away when I'm less than five inches from it. The weather is really not to my liking, as it starts some strange game of Monkey in the Middle with me and my hat and the other cold front coming in. I'm the Monkey and I get so frustrated that I stop paying attention to the possibility of traffic and just focus on my hat.

No matter how close I come to it, it blows even further away. This is such an unnecessary distraction and I'm completely incensed that the weather has the outright gall to hold me up longer than it already has.

During my sixth rampage across the road, I almost collide head on with a blue minivan.

"'AY! Get outta the goddamn road!"

God, it's him.

My day could not possibly get any worse.


I'm too stunned to move. I'm simply frozen in front of those headlights like a frightened animal.

But why am I so shocked, though? I mean, this is a town with a population of less than a thousand people and it's not like I don't see him on a regular basis at school. We even have the same Distance Learning period together, so I'm stuck in the Computer Lab with him almost daily, assuming he doesn't cut class like the lazy slime he is.

He rolls down the passenger side window and attempts to stick his head out. Before I can manage to say something about the massive shiner on his face, he takes one look at me and shouts, "Move!"

"You almost killed me!" I unfreeze to spit out a retort.

"So? Be fuckin' grateful you get to spend another day eating granola or smoking grass or walking into oncoming traffic or whatever the fuck you hippies do nowadays"

"I didn't do it on purpose, you oleaginous imbecile!"

"Someone's been reading their SAT book —"

"For your information," I add, stomping over to the window, "my hat just up and decided to fly off into the wind, so, if you please, I have a plethora of better things to do besides stand here and listen to you insinuate that I smoke marijuana!"

"No way!" He yells, even though I'm about a foot away from him. "My brakes are probably all fucked up from stopping so suddenly to avoid your fuckin' bitch ass, and you're paying for 'em!"

"Like hell I am!"

"Sorry you're gonna have to spend your allowance on something other than grass this week, but..." he puts his emergency brake on and steps out of the vehicle.

"For the last time, Eric, I do not smoke pot and you know it!"

"Yeah, well," he snorts and changes tactics, "only 'cause you're chicken."

"Excuse me?"

"You heard me. You're a chicken! You won't smoke 'cause you're afraid it'll ruin your reputation!"

"Sorry to disappoint you, Mr. I-won't-smoke-because-only-hippies-and-burnouts-like-my-own-best-friend-do-it, but I'm not a fucking chicken! You, on the other hand..." As I fling my index finger at him in anger I arbitrarily realize he and I are the exact same height. "Seen the Jewpacabra lately?"

He gives a little nervous laugh, but bounces right back into his unpleasant demeanor. "I dare you."

"Dare me to what?"

"You know..." He leans in a little and the corners of his mouth twist upward. "Smoke."

I scoff. "I have better things to do, Cartman. Goodbye."

I get about ten steps away before he mutters, "You're such a fuckin' chicken. I bet you won't even, like, steal a car!"

Not even pausing to stop, I make a U-turn and whisper "watch me" in his ear before I get into the driver's seat, lock the door, put on the seatbelt, undo the emergency brake and floor the gas pedal.

You have to understand — I have known this asshole since elementary school and he has always been such a complete piece of shit to me that I can't even bring myself to categorize him with normal people. All it takes is one jibe, one little jeer and suddenly I just have this need to punch him in the face or show him how much of a piece of trash he is. Eric Cartman makes my blood boil like no other and, regrettably, my impulse control is cut in half whenever he is entered into the equation. Honestly, I am normally not so reckless.

Cartman yells what I can only assume is some choice profanity, but I roll the window back up so I don't have to hear it. After checking the rearview mirror (and sticking up my middle finger as he attempts to catch up with me), I switch on the radio. Of course he has his iPod set on some hideously obnoxious '80s arena rock, so I unplug it, throw the iPod in the backseat, turn the station to NPR and pump up the volume.

I pass the abandoned BP station before it dawns on me that I left all my stuff behind.

There's a grey Oldsmobile creeping up in the opposite lane, so I can't just turn around to go get it. I find the nearest half-empty parking lot, park in the most secluded area and listen to All Things Considered until he comes huffing and puffing around the corner of the Photo Dojo.

"You... Gimme back my..." He stops to catch his breath, then points and screeches, "You fucking bitch!" He slowly trudges over to me with my stuff, sweaty, enraged and ready to kill.

I return nothing but a smug smile of victory.

"First I had my phone taken from me, and now some Goddamn fuckin' hippie stole my car and... turned it to fuckin' liberal talk radio!"

And, without warning, he bursts into tears.

"I just want my caaaar baa-a-a-a-ack!"

I'm more disgusted than anything, so I simply reply with a "Nope."

"But-but Wiiinnnndddyyyyy..." he starts to whine.

"No means no, Fatass!"

That only makes him blubber more intensely. "I-I'll do anything! I'll leave you alone! I'll" He pauses. "I'll give you a ride!"

Okay, I'll admit a ride would be nice, but I'm halfway tempted to decline strictly on principle.

"Let me get this straight. By a ride, you mean an actual ride to my house and not the Peppermint Hippo?"

"Yes, okay? Now quit giving me ideas and get out of the driver's seat before I change my mind!"

I fold my arms. "How do I know you're not going to just drive away once I get out?"

"Well, for one thing, it's dropped about five degrees in the past ten minutes, and it's probably going to get colder. I mean, it tends to do that at night," he adds dryly.

I quirk an eyebrow at him to show that I do not see where he is going with this.

"Seriously, I wouldn't even wish freezing to death on Kahl. And secondly, I'm not you."

That prick! "I took your car to prove a point, not to be a selfish asshole!"

"Well, you proved it, alright? Now get out!"

"How polite," I snort as I open the door and hop out of the seat. "You're a real gentleman."

"I know," he says without a hint of irony in his voice.

While I'm on my way to the other side, that motherfucker has the fucking nerve to move his foot off the brake pedal. I whirl on him with a face that surely resembles that of ManBearPig.

"I was kidding! It was a joke! I wouldn't actually—"

"Give me my stuff!" I shout as I snatch my bag from between the driver and passenger seat.

"Windy —"

"I don't wanna hear it!" I shriek. I can feel a migraine coming on, I just know it. "I just wanna go home and all you want to do is scare me half to death—"

"Look, I'm sorry, okay?"


"If I'd known you were going to act like this, I wouldn't have done it."

"Oh, bull-fucking-shit!"

"Well, okay, yeah, I probably still would have done it, but..." he sighs and lowers his voice. "I feel really bad about it, alright?"

Neither of us say anything for a couple of seconds until it hits me that Cartman of all people is trying to apologize and I begin to laugh.


"Oh, God," he says, which only makes me giggle harder for some unapparent reason. "I've done it. She's finally cracked."

"You don't have feelings!" I blurt out, then cover my mouth as if I were a second grader who had just swore in front of a school official.

There's another uncomfortable silence as Cartman and I stare at each other. He doesn't get angry, for once. He merely sighs and says, "Get in the car, Windy. It's—" He checks the digital thermometer embedded above the rearview mirror, "it's fuckin' 31 degrees out there and you lost your hat, so..."

I'm done being tenacious for the night. The sooner I'm able to get home, the better. Even if I have to spend the next five minutes of my life in the vehicle of someone I'd like to see hanging off the edge of a cliff seconds away from falling into an ocean of piranhas with lasers attached to their heads.

So I get in.

I sincerely hope I do not regret this decision.

"Where's my phone?" He mutters.

"It's it's somewhere back there in the seat, but can we please just not listen to anything right now?" I place my bag in my lap and bury my face in my arms. "My head hurts."

"Fine, whatever..."

The noisy crackle of a speaker of some sort awakens me a little groggy and disoriented from my impromptu nap. I'm not exactly sure where I am, but all I know is I'm too tired to look up and I swear I just had the weirdest dream that Cartman gave me a ride home...

"Thank you for choosing Burger King, how may I help you?"

Burger King? This must be one of those lucid dreams. There isn't a Burger King around for miles...

"Uh, yes, I'd like three Double Whoppers, all with cheese and no pickles or mayo, an order of onion rings, a large Dr. Pepper, and..." Cartman reaches over, shakes my shoulder and whispers, "Psst, d'you want anything?"

Oh. This is a lucid nightmare. It has to be. I cannot be here.

But I am. And this is real.

Fine. I'd better just go along with it I'm too tired to fight anymore.

"Um... a cherry Icee, I guess," I mumble.

"Two cherry Icees," Cartman shouts to the drive-thru speaker.

As the employee on the other end gives the absurdly high amount and tells him to drive up to the second window, I futilely attempt to get a signal on my phone.

"I am only going to ask this once, Eric. Where the fuck are we?"

"Windy, relax, I'm gonna take you home. I was just getting hungry."

"So you drove an hour to some Burger King in the middle of nowhere?"

"It was more like thirty minutes, 'cause the speed limit's for pussies, but yeah. This is the closest one."

"Which is in...?" I ask.



"It's the closest one—"

"Yeah, you already said that!" I snap.

"What else am I supposed to say? Sorry I wanted Burger King?"

"You could have waited!" Before I can stop it, I'm gritting my teeth and I feel angry tears start to well up in my eyes. "You could have waited five more minutes until you dropped me off to come here!"

"Well, excuse me for trying to be considerate!"

"Um... sir?"

The two of us are startled by the clerk at the window.

"So do you wanna just give me the money for your Icee and I can pay all of it with my card?" Cartman asks.

"Yeah. Okay." I'm a little taken aback that he doesn't automatically assume I'm willing to let him pay for me outright, but... honestly? It's kind of nice that he didn't. Most of the guys I hang out with try to pay for me when we go out to eat and I get rightfully mad because men are basically conditioned to do that by society.

It doesn't mean I forgive him for this shitty fucking situation. I shouldn't have tempted fate by complaining about wanting a ride home.

I reach into my bag, find a five dollar bill inside my wallet and hand it to Cartman.

"If you think I'm giving you change back..."

"I know you're not."

"Okay. Good. You're not stupid like Kahl, who keeps a fuckin' tab on every goddamn cent I owe him." The clerk hands him the Icees, which he uses to knock off two of the empty fast food cups occupying the cup holders and subsequently replaces their spot with them. I immediately grab my own. "According to him, I owe him three thousand, nine hundred and fifty four bucks."


"And eighty three cents." He puts the bag holding his meal in his lap and places his Dr. Pepper where my Icee was. "But what can I say? We all had some crazy shit going on when we were kids."

We're silent most of the ride back. Cartman finds some country station to listen to, which I don't usually mind, but it's the fact that he starts singing along that gets me annoyed as all get out.

He sees the expression on my face and asks, "Aren't we the mood killer?"

"Ugh, I have a billion different things I ought to be doing right now and... and I'm stuck with you. Of course I'm going to be a mood killer."

"You don't have to be who your parents want you to be, you know."

"Are you just saying that so I don't contend with your plans for world domination?"

"No, I'm being seriously. Pushy parents are the fucking worst!"

"Like your mom's ever been pushy," I scoff. "And actually, my parents wanted me to go to CSU for a couple of years and transfer, but I told them no."


"Because," I say through gritted teeth, "It's been my dream to go to an Ivy League school since I was four!"

He doesn't speak again until after we pass the old familiar South Park sign. "I've always kind of... okay, don't fuckin' tell anyone I said this, but... I've always kind of admired how outspoken you are."

I snort. "What? You're, like, fifty billion times more outspoken than I am."

"Well, I mean, I just..." He gets a pink tinge to his cheeks. "I mean, of course I am... but, y'know, most of that is just me saying what's on my mind at all times because I'm awesome like that, but you..." he shrugs. "You're better at it than me."

This is fishy. Too fishy. "What do you want?"

"What do you mean, what do I want?" He says defensively. "Can't I just compliment someone without trying to get anything out of it?"


"Yes, I can!"

"No you can't!"

"Bitch, you don't know me!"

"Don't call me a bitch, Fatass!"

"Don't call me Fatass, you fuckin'—"

"Oh, lemme guess, the next word in that sentence was going to be "hippie" or "bitch" or some variation thereof, am I right?"

"Wrong!" The tires squeal as Cartman pulls over to the side of the road. "Okay, I was going to ask if you knew when tryouts for that dumb play is, but that was the only thing I was trying to do, I swear!"

"I think this is close enough for me, thank you," I say as I unbuckle my seatbelt, open the door and practically leap out of my seat.

The wind isn't as bad as it was, but there has been a definite decrease in temperature between the last time I was out here and now. I march down the sidewalk, anticipating Cartman to come driving up begging me to get my ass in here before I freeze to death like he did before, but he doesn't. I think he decided to drive the other way.

That asshole.

I should probably let Mother know I'm just now getting to our street — I DID IT AGAIN.



Thankfully Cartman only dropped me off about three blocks away. I dash down the sidewalk in the direction of my house and before I know it I'm searching for the extra key underneath the flowerpot on our porch.

As soon as I find the cordless phone on its base in Father's office, I hear an extremely loud HOOOOOOOONK coming from the street outside.

"'AY! I'm not hauling around your shit in my van for the next month waiting for you to come and get it, so get out here!"

Ever the mannerly fellow, is he not?

"Um... thanks for the Icee, I guess," I mumble when I put my arm and head through the strap on my bag.

"You never did tell me when those auditions are," he says.

"Ugh, fine, since you're probably going to torture somebody else..." I rack my brains trying to remember what Bebe had said previously. The only thing I remember from that time is focusing on my Calculus and her saying they were looking for an advisor. "I want to say... Tuesday? But you can't hold me to that."

"Ah. Alright. Well..." He gives me a little salute. "see you in German."

"I'm not taking German."

"Well, I am, so—"

"I'm taking Women's Studies—"

"Of course you are," Cartman says, rolling his eyes. "Well..."

I give a slightly nervous chuckle and say, "Yeah. Bye."

God, what a fucking night. Maybe I can do everything on that to-do list before three in the morning this time.