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THERE ARE TWO TYPES of people in the world; those who know how to drive, and those who think they know how to drive.

Clarke Wilson falls under the latter of these two categories.

She drives like you'd expect any girl with giraffe-sized legs, questionable eyesight (her optometrist informed her that without glasses, she'd be considered legally blind), and overactive brain function to drive: batshit crazy. She has ever since her parents purchased her a used Toyota for her sixteenth birthday. Because Clarke Wilson's the type of girl who doesn't excel at things she doesn't wish to excel at (and she doesn't wish to excel at driving, not particularly, so she doesn't). She has three speeding tickets, one lamp post collision, and two fender benders to show for it.

As she nurses her shitty sedan into third gear with a triumphant growl of the engine, the trees along the two-lane highway blur out of focus. At this point, all cars flanking her have dispersed (most likely because she's driving like a bat-outta-hell, but plausibly also because she's rolled the windows down and is singing the chorus of Man, I Feel like a Woman at the top of her lungs). The road winds around a collection of marshes and then dips into a rock cut, and Clarke momentarily allows herself to imagine she's on some sort of rollercoaster ride, which, in the end, only results in her driving both ridiculously under the speed limit and ludicrously over it in the space of the following two minutes.

She's just about to smash the chorus of Free Fallin' at a pitch she doesn't have the capability of hitting when her phone buzzes in the cup holder. She looks down. Sawyer Mill's blinking number stares back at her.


She downshifts the car into first gear. The buzzing intensifies.


A school bus whips by her to the left. It's the one with the passive-aggressive driver that's been sending her death glares in her rearview for the past fifteen minutes.


The tires hit the roadside gravel and she comes to a sputtering stop. Free Fallin' is mid chorus and she's not singing, which bothers her decidedly more than the half dozen driving laws she's just infracted upon. She goes for the cellphone, still buzzing in the cup holder, but dunks her hand in the open jar of pickles beside it instead.

"Jesus Christ."

The pickle liquid drips over her exposed legs, all freezing cold and briny, and Clarke can't think of anything more to do in such a situation than wipe her fingers on her Born to be Wilde shirt. The result colors half of Oliver Wilde's face in a fluorescent shade of green. She smells like pickle juice and poor decisions. She curses again and redials.

Sawyer picks up on the third ring. "Finally. Where the hell are you? I thought you'd rear ended another elderly woman in a Target parking lot, or something."

Clarke rolls her eyes, because it's been two goddamn years since the rear-ending debacle of 2020 and Sawyer still won't live it down.

"No," she says, wiping the last of the brine from her legs. "All elderly women remain intact. Just a pickle accident."

"A what?"

"Nothing, let's not talk about it."

There's a moment of silence on the other end. "So when are you gonna be making your grand entrance?"


"How very vague of you."

"I'm sorry," Clarke says. "I've got bigger things to worry about at this moment."

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