Her left hand curls around the gear stick; her thumb idly caresses the raised design. Under her right hand, the curve of the steering wheel brushes back and forth, anticipating the bends in the road. The leather seat hums against her thighs.
Shiori only pretends to drive. She's a passenger in the wrong seat, feet rising and falling at the whim of the clutch and accelerator. On the other side of the windshield, the night sky loops in a fast-motion blur. How did she never notice before that there are no roads out of Ohtori?
She is restless. Every time she shifts in her seat, the engine growls eagerly.
Her prince's ghost no longer haunts her; her lovesick suitor has slipped loose enough to turn away. Shiori's power is evaporating like fog under the sun. Which is what she's doing in this car in the first place, she supposes. When it pulled up beside her, winked its headlights, and opened its door like a lover offering an arm, she couldn't think of anything she had left to lose.
A dance song plays on the radio, thumping and sensual, but the lyrics are incongruous children's rhymes. Listening too closely makes her uneasy.
"I'm sick of this place," she says. "Let's get out of here."
Abruptly the radio tunes itself to static. After raising the volume so high that Shiori has to cover her ears, it flicks rapid-fire from station to station, building a voice from snatches of speech: "No one's getting out."
Ohtori's lights streak by, again and again and again, more fixed than the stars. "Then where are we going?"
The road dips out of sight behind the dashboard. With a little shiver of alarm, Shiori realizes that her seat has been reclining slowly, and she has sunk with it. When she tries to straighten up, her seat belt locks and holds her down.
"For a ride," the radio sings piecemeal.
The rear-view mirror tips and twists until Shiori can see herself in it: cheeks red, lips parted, thighs pressed together. A little purr of approval rises from the engine and through her skin. The seat is warm and alive like a lover's body, the straps of the seat belt an unbreakable embrace.
She relaxes the hand that sprang to the seat belt release. Her reflection has always disgusted her—she's bloated, plain, lopsided, flat-featured, dull—but the car seems to like what it sees, at least. The car sees like Juri.
Working her fingers beneath the shoulder strap, Shiori unbuttons her blouse. The gear stick dances as the accelerator presses flat to the floor beneath her foot. The next turn throws her hard toward the door, digging the seat belt into her skin. Her feet skid off the pedals.
Her reflection's eyes narrow. "Hey, be careful!"
In reply, the radio croons, "Don't you like it a little rough?"
Shiori braces herself through the next turn, legs spread and palms pressed against the door and passenger seat. The vents blow hot and cold up her skirt. When the car straightens out, she finds that the shoulder strap of the seat belt has caught and pulled her blouse, exposing her ruffle-edged bra. She reaches beneath her back with a practiced hand and unhooks the clasp.
As much as she hates her breasts—too small, too bottom-heavy, with nipples much too large—she likes the lust-tinted attention of the mirror. The window rolls itself down and lets the wind snatch the tie from her uniform; it flies away at two hundred kilometers an hour. Air roars in the gap like the blood in Shiori's veins. She throws her bra outside, too, before the window rises back into place.
"Rough like this?" She uses the sweet voice that always sucks Juri in like a honey pit. As the leather seat vibrates its approval, she pinches and tugs her nipples, rolls them tight between her fingers. The flush in her reflection's cheeks spreads down to her chest. "How rough do you want it?"
A brake-squealing turn slaps her against her seat belt again. Now the radio pumps out a driving beat, so loud that Shiori cannot hear her own heavy breaths, over which a woman's voice moans. For the first time she wonders if she's riding in a boy car or a girl car, and whether she should be disgusted or aroused. For all she knows, she's inside Juri right now. No one's getting out.
Slouching deeper in her seat, she pulls her thighs up and apart until the lacy white of her underwear flashes into the mirror. Her arousal has soaked through in a thick line. The fabric bulges as she slips a hand inside to stroke her labia.
"Rougher," the radio purrs. A bump in the road sends the car airborne and rattles Shiori's teeth with the landing.
Licking her lips, she works two fingers into her cunt and flexes her knuckles. She aches to envelop, to stretch to the edge of pain; she adds another finger, and another, and remains insatiable. Her wetness slides past her ass and pools on the seat.
When gravity warps with the next turn, she hooks her legs around the steering wheel and grips the gear stick with her free hand. The seat vibrates beneath her like a trilling tongue. Shiori crests with it, panting. Her reflection is absurd, but she can't look away, can't find room in herself for shame.
"Come on, come on," says the radio, in a half-familiar girl's voice. "Why'd you get in if you're not gonna ride?"
With a low moan, Shiori pulls her fingers out and tugs aside the damp crotch of her underwear. Her flushed vulva glistens. Beneath the appreciative gaze of the mirror, she shifts her hips until the steering wheel presses against her clit.
The car drives straight until she has hooked her fingers back inside, then twists her through a throbbing turn.
Gasping, Shiori fucks herself and rides the friction of the wheel. The needle of the speedometer throws itself against the edge of measurement, trembles, and snaps. The digits of the odometer spin like the reels of a slot machine.
As the wheel rubs rough and shuddering over her clit, the car weaves wild over the road. The windshield flickers with headlights that turn sharply aside; the radio's moans are punctuated by angry horns. Shiori's back arches into the danger. Her trembling thighs struggle to grip the wheel.
When she comes, the car honks a staccato laugh, and her reflection becomes a starburst glimpse of the edge of the world.
The brakes slam. The tires screech. Shiori's body hits the seat belt hard enough to knock the wind from her.
As the door unlocks and the seat belt releases, the radio speaks in its grainy patchwork of voices: "All you know how to do is ride. You're not going anywhere. You'll never leave this garden."
"Fuck you." Shiori fumbles open the door and stumbles out into the night air, sticky and disheveled. The car revs its engine and zooms away, giving her a glimpse of "KOZUE[梢]" on the license plate before it rounds a curve.
On the side of the road, the yellow glow of a street lamp puddles around Miki. Distance and shadow obscure his expression, but he stares, unmoving, for a long time. No one's getting out.
One by one, Shiori sucks her fingers clean. Her lips tingle with the taste of sex and leather. Black cars roar toward her from either direction, swerving at the last possible moment. Vibrations linger inside her like ghosts.
When Miki finally turns away, she curls her hands into circles and smiles. She knows exactly what she wants to be.