A simple premise; a bold promise
To present one story per day, every day—providing exceptional authors with exposure and avid readers with first-rate fiction.


The storm hit like a hammer.  I thought the car roof was going to cave in.  I thought the road beneath our wheels was going to rejoin the sea.

Maddie is a backseat driver, which is fine when there’s nothing to worry about, but could get us killed when I really have to concentrate.  “Go faster!” she said.  “Pull over!  Turn the windshield wipers off!  Stay in the right lane!  Slow down!”  She said everything that popped into her head all at once, because it was less terrifying than paying attention.

But I had to pay attention.  We couldn’t see 10 feet in front of us, but damn fools were still driving the speed limit so we didn’t dare stop.  The side of the road had turned into a mud river and if we fell in it would be days before anyone could get the car out.  If I screamed, something terrible would happen.

Lightning flashed, and thunder, all at once:  the storm was right on top of us.  A car passed us on our left, then skidded across our lane and off the road.  There’s a goddamn curve in the road:  mud splattered against Maddie’s window, then got pounded off by the rain.  The car was making all kinds of sounds, the engine was getting wet, for a moment I thought I heard our windshield cracking.

“Jim!” she shrieked, and she grabbed my arm.  I pushed her away.  I had to push her away.  I didn’t mean to hit her, it’s a car, there’s no room, my elbow … I didn’t mean to hit her, but I didn’t have time to see if she was okay.  Just past the highway, lightning struck a tree, set it on fire, knocked it to the ground, and a moment later the rain put it out:  thunder boxed my ears in, I could hardly hear her crying.

“You never take care of me!” she screamed, and I didn’t have time to think of anything to say.

Three minutes later the storm passed.  Three minutes:  I could tell by the clock in our car.  According the odometer, we’d gone maybe half a mile.  There were a few other cars still on the road, and a lot of them trapped in the mud sea on either side.  I saw three cars overturned, completely overturned, their passenger cabins scrunched in under the weight of their own bodies, their drivers struggling to open the doors or crawl through the broken windows, the mud seeping in.

We were still driving.  I took us up to 10.  To 20.  To 30.  I pointed to the side of the road.  I kept us from that.  I kept us from that, but the words wouldn’t come out of my mouth.  Maddie had a bloody nose.  She wouldn’t look at the side of the road, and she wouldn’t look at me either.

“You don’t take care of me,” she said.  “You broke my nose.”

“We’re safe,” I said, my hands shaking.  “We’re safe.

“You broke my nose.”

“It’s not broken.”

“You hit me.”

I could barely hear her, the thunder was still in my head.  “I’m sorry.”  I don’t know if she could hear me.

Three cars completely overturned off the side of the road, a dozen more stuck, and we drove out of it.  We drove out of it, we could walk away.  But we weren’t okay.  Ever since then, I was the guy who, when she grabbed my arm, pushed her away and left her bloody.

I kept the car, she got the house.  She’s married now to a cop, and I still have the thunder ringing in my head.  Kiss me.


Benjamin Wachs has written for Village Voice Media,, and NPR among other venues.  He archives his work at

Read more stories by Benjamin Wachs.


To comment on this story, visit Fiction365’s Facebook page.