It was a hot afternoon; his palms were sweaty and his whole body was sticky and stuck to the car seat, even with the towel he'd put behind his back.
Wiping his brow with frustration, he swerved off to one side of the road and stopped, a cloud of dust swirling around the car and shimmering in the hot summer sun. He coughed and cursed at the failing air conditioning as he took the sweat-soaked towel and tossed it into the back seat of his battered, almost prehistoric excuse of a car.
He had to check twice in every direction with a pair of binoculars to make sure nobody was looking. Who would care about a teenager driving around in the Nevada desert, anyway?
He pressed the pedal hard and sped off the road, farther and farther away, escaping it like he would from a dangerous serpent.
It didn't matter where he went, as long as he drove.
The angry screams of parents and teachers filled his head. He was swarmed with frustration and indecision, both brought upon by those who were trying to steer his life for him.
On impulse, he turned the wheel dramatically, and the car balanced on its right wheels for a while before touching ground again upon a completed, sharp U turn.
He chased a jackrabbit and whizzed over its burrow.
In the shimmering, ardent air he saw the stern expressions of a thousand faces that threatened to study him, to label him, to judge him.
His eyes were almost covered in dust and sweat, but he pressed on, the sun only inches from his line of vision.
He made a series of random turns and realized that, in a long time, driving had been almost the only thing he'd had control of. All of his life was defined by charts and agendas, appointments with college interviewers and campus visits and meetings with a million clubs he was in but only attended a few times a year.
He didn't even know the color of his room walls from the countless books that had been piled in there, trapping him in his own little land of enforced restless brain-nurturing.
But there was a limit to which he could be taken. So, one day, he finally opted to give them the time of their lives and try to find him. They'd probably enjoy the change in routine and overdose of adrenaline as much as him. Or not.
He could not stand to be chained and abused like an animal anymore. And just like an animal, he wanted freedom, whatever the cost and whatever the outcome. He didn't care where he was going as long as he could leave his horrid life behind. No more confinement, no more verbal whips, no more being shoved around. He had been a monkey on a leash for too long.
And he was tired of being exposed as some sort of exposition, a trophy or a one-man show. Was it too much to ask not to have the spotlight all the time? Not to have to live up to everyone's expectations, to have a choice and a voice? He had finally gathered enough strength to take matters into his own hands.
He smiled, not knowing where the endless expand of sand, rocks and scrub would take him, but being glad that he had finally done something for himself, or just without someone else's voice telling him to.
The mountains in the distance became closer and bigger. But he drove and drove on. He was going so fast that he couldn't even see the dust he was leaving behind. The rocks began to tower over him, threatening to crash down and crush him like an insignificant bug under God's mighty thumb. But he pressed on, and he drove and drove.