There’s No Right Way to Say This – Yen Radecki

The wake was being held on Saturday afternoon at Jay’s parents’ house, so the four of us drove down together that morning.

It wasn’t that none of us could get there on our own — although Arjun certainly would have struggled to get his scooter going fast enough for the freeway — but that it made sense to go together, the same collective front as seniors as we had been freshman year. We stood around the gas station before setting off, filling the car and pooling our ignorance like pocket-change between us. None of us had met Jay’s parents before, and I was the only one who knew Jay’s sister — but we could all agree on the existence of Bucky, a childhood dog glimpsed in the corner of more than one Facebook picture.

“Labrador?” Libbie guessed, squinting at the phone screen as she guided the pump to the car’s gas tank.

“Golden retriever,” Marco corrected, taking the phone back to peer at the screen. “Wait, that’s diesel, right?”

Once the car was full, Marco went inside to pay as the rest of us fumbled for loose bills to contribute. It was quarter past seven, and the sun was just visible through the haze of gasoline, shivering its way into the sky beneath the station’s peeling awning.

“We’re getting coffee, yeah?” Arjun asked as Marco made his way back towards us. We piled into the car and began shucking layers like peeling corn. “Somewhere that isn’t Timmy’s?”

“No one’s rooting for Tim Horton’s.” Libbie was settling into the front seat, fiddling with knobs to clear the windshield. “And of course we’re getting fucking coffee.”

As the only one in possession of a car large enough to fit us comfortably, Marco had volunteered his Chevrolet for the task, and Libbie, the only one who’d driven further than Gravenhurst before, had reluctantly agreed to drive it. By tacit agreement, I sat up front to help her navigate, while Marco and Arjun slumped from side to side in the back, and occasionally against each other’s shoulders, thumbing idly at their cell phones. The sun was high by the time we pulled off the ramp onto the freeway, sliding around the windshield to glare over the brushland, and the extra macchiato I’d accidentally ordered at the drive-through sat untouched by the gear shift, equally steadfast.

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