The sturdy cocoon of the gray Saab sheltered Nina from the cold dark world, but it was the silence inside the car that she feared most. The stuffy heating and the lingering taste of mulled wine made her slump in the passenger seat. “Thanks for dinner, babe.” She tried to sound casual. “Your best one yet.”
Kirsten frowned. “It’s fine.”
“So are you coming to the concert?”
Kirsten hit the brakes when a swift figure jumped over the slippery asphalt. Bad luck, Nina thought. All cats turn black during a power outage.
“You know I have to get up early on Sundays.” Kirsten had cut her curls short and dyed them a mousy brown. Her appearance had become an issue now, though she had never shown the urge to conform before. In high school it was what had distinguished them from the tangle of pink leggings and hoop earrings. That was twenty years ago; back when they had first seen Anarkistisk Paradoks play on an improvised stage in the back of a barn. They had to travel four hours by bus just to get there.
“You used to love them,” Nina tried.
"Who?" Kirsten asked, concentrating on the road. "The Antarktik Pakyderms?" She navigated carefully under a ladder supporting an electrician working on the downed power lines.
More bad luck, Nina mused. "No," she corrected her friend. "The Anarktivistik...the Anakronistik...isk... Paradymes" She stuck her tongue out to loosen it and try again. The mulled wine wasn't helping any.
"That's when I was hip enough to pronounce their name," Kirsten snooted. "Now I have...oh shit!"
The Saab spun out on black ice and slammed into a tree. Nina stared at her bloodied reflection in the broken side-view mirror. Lady Luck just wasn't on her side today. "Damn," she thought, as the world faded from dark to black. "Now I won't get to hear the Aardvarkistik Parabolas...the Arnarkistiskisks...."
Opening: Nicolette Vern....Continuation: Tamara