They were free for a moment. For a moment Matthew could forget about everything – he let go of her for a moment. His mind was empty, and in the emptiness of his mind dwelled the sounds of wind and birds chattering, following up with Mikes and Caroline’s laughter. The three of them was at peace with nature. They felt the sun touching their skins with a warm, gentle touch, the wind blowing in their nostrils and top of the grain tingling their skin. There was just the three of them. No other soul was to be found around those parts at this early morning. They enjoyed the moment while an orange warm ball hovered above the horizon, signaling that a new day has been dawned. Matthew extended both arms, grabbing each other hands. Caroline and Mike did the same, and all three of them formed a circle. Spinning around for a while until their heads began spinning, forcing Matthew to step off the field, back to the van where he sat on the side opening of it.
Matthew sat back and watched his friends, how they danced and spun in the empty grain field. His back laid against the back of a passenger seat. A hand slid after the joint they didn’t finish earlier, and with from a spark igniting the flame, he lid up the joint. Puffing it a little caught Mikes attention. Mikes feet moved on its own now and he was closing in, to the van, while Caroline stayed in the field. Such a thing didn’t amuse her.
“Matthew, why you’re worried?” Mike asked as he approached Matthew
“What makes you think I’m worried?”
“Emmm, your face for starters. Plus, you never sit back smoking joints like this if something isn’t bothering you. So, what is it?”
“I dunno, I’m still thinking about Vanda.” He ashed the joint and passed it to Mike “What if the stranger was her, but I just got scared and hauled out of there? I saw him or her waving hands as we drove off from that gas station.”
“Matthew, she was gone for almost a half an hour. Don’t you think she would leave a note or something?”
“How can you know she was gone half an hour?” Matthew raised an eyebrow.
“Because I saw her leaving with one eye opened. She just jumped out with her bag and left.”
Silence stood place after Mikes answer. Both sat and enjoyed each other company, smoking weed and watching how Caroline enjoyed the empty field of grain. Like two stalkers they watched her spin and laughing, shouting a few words in between. She ignored them like they weren’t there. After a while, Mike and Matthew began laughing uncontrollably which caught Caroline’s attention. She saw them as two laughing pigeons, sitting on the vans side opening. It didn’t take long for her to approach them, with a funny grimace on her face.
“Dudes, are you all right in the head?” she laughed
“What? It seems like it isn’t?” Mike laughed and Matthew continued
“Guys, you’re high again, especially you, Matthew. Look at your eyes. I wonder how can you see me. You see me don’t you?”
She curiously waited, but Matthew answered her with laughter. There was a pause after her question. Pause which lasted in laughter from Mike an Matthew. Matthew inhaled a deep breath, trying to catch the floating fresh air. He catched his breath in the middle of laughing with Mike and could give Caroline the answer.
“Don’t worry darling, I can see your beauty even with my eyes closed.”
“Mr. Romatic Matthew, damn. Seven out of ten.” Mike praised Matthew in laughter and finished the remaining joint.
“Are you always like this mates?” Caroline looked at them with a serious face
“Woah, Woah, chill out missis serious. We were just goofing around.”
Mike laughter settled and he slid into silence. Matthew appreciated the silence. He liked to watch the sun rising up, and it gave him hope. Vision about his father quickly passed before his eyes. As it passed he jumped on his feet and looked around. Flickering his eyes he realized that it was just a glimpse created by his mind, but he wanted to believe it was real. Caroline looked surprised by Matthew sudden movements.
“Is there something Matthew?” she asked
“Nothing. I thought I saw something.”
“Smoking this much weed will definitely make you see things.” She laughed, Mike joined her with a chuckle.
“If you say so.”
Matthew didn’t find it funny. He just continued staring into the empty field, thinking. Countless ‘what if?’ floated in his mind. The question kept pilling up in his mind and he began zoning out from the group. As soon as he was about to zone out from reality, Mike pulled him back in.
“Matthew! What comes next?”
“Next? Next, we cross the border, which is,” he pulled out the map on his phone “right after a hundred kilometers.”
“And we’re going to Amsterdam right?”
“Can’t you please stop praising about it?” Caroline shouted at Mike
“Okay grumpy pants.”
Mike chuckled, but Caroline’s face stayed reddish until Matthew interfered.
“Guys, guys, relax. We are going to Amsterdam because Mike and I made a promise to each other long time ago. But I’m not sure If going straight is the right thing to-“ sound of his phone call interrupted his speech.
Matthew jumped in the van, looking for his phone and leaving Mike with Caroline to argue further. The sound was coming from the back of a van. Quickly he shoved everything aside in hopes of finding the source of the sound before it disappears. Like an addict searching for his next dose he looked everywhere; in the back of a van until Mike shouted him that the sound is coming from his pocket. Apparently, Matthew was high enough to forget his own phone, in his pocket. With the last seconds of the connected call, he took the phone out of the pocket and pressed ‘answers’, without bothering who was the caller.
“Matt…hew, I…him,” the voice was crippled and the howling of a wind could be heard in the background “found him”
“Found what? Who is this?” he took the phone off his ear and looked into it, but there wasn’t anything more than an unknown number.
“Him…found him…It’s me…Matt…can…member?” crippling didn’t stop
“I can’t get anything you’re saying. Who are you?” the wind in the background stop and the voice steadied. “I found him. It’s more like a place than ‘him’.” Voice sounded familiar, but he couldn’t get the hang of it.
“Who are you, and what has to do with me?”
“I can’t believe you don’t recognize my voice, Matty. Pitty.”
“Ruth?” Matthew spoke into the phone and Mike jumped up after hearing it
“I thought you don’t want to hear from me.”
“Now not the time to talk about it. All that matter is that I found the place in the picture I left for you. It’s here. In Amsterdam. You must get here as soon as you can.”
She explained to him the place where he has to go and hung up right after. Matthew fell into deep thoughts after the phone call, but Mike snapped him out of it.
“Dude. Ruth. I can’t believe it.”
“Neither do I.”
Matthew continued staring into the phone for a few seconds. Seeing the route on the navigation he immediately jumped into the van. Soon Mike with Caroline followed him up. Ruth told Matthew to hurry up, and quickly as he can he started the van. It gurgled for a while, motionless in the middle of nowhere. On a dirt road, a few kilometers from the highway. With the black smoke, he began driving towards the highway. A smile rose on Matthew’s face as they began moving, but faded away as soon as van began rattling. It began giving out weird noises and ultimately stopped. He tried to understand what happened, they all tried. No matter how many times he tried turning the key, it just didn’t start. His hope was slowly fading away and he hasn’t felt more stuck than he was now. Mike jumped from the back to front, to check on the Matthew and then it hit him. The panel showed that the fuel tank was empty. Matthew’s and Mike’s eyes met each other with doubt. Both tried to understand how did this happen.
“When was the last time you fueled it up?” Mike asked
“Right before we picked up Vanda.”
“And then we all fell asleep while she was driving us to that weird gas station. She must have driven off all the fuel. FUCK!” Mike hit the dashboard with his fist.
“Hey, hey, hey. Relax mate.” Caroline shouted from the back, “I’m sure we can figure this out, right Matthew?”
“I hope we can. If there’s anyone around here.”
Matthew stepped outside to look around. There was no one. Not a single soul around. They were alone. Stranded on the dirt road, between grain fields and countless kilometers off the highway. Matthew tilted his head backward and looked into the sky, muttering the words under his nose.