It’s a late winter night. It’s pouring rain outside, and we both need to head home. I didn’t even ask him for a ride; it’s just routine at this point. We’re in his car — which I’ve made fun of a million times before — with my “hopeless romantic” Spotify playlist playing softly from the speakers.

I’ve only known him for two months, but it feels like a lifetime. These drives from point A to point B are really the only time we spend as just the two of us, but I feel safe with him in ways that I don’t feel around people who I’ve known 10, 20, 100 times longer.

We talk. It’s the kind of conversation where you’re chatting and laughing and time feels compressed as you lose track of it. The 30-minute drive becomes 5. It’s the best kind of conversation; the one where you know you’ll probably wonder what you were actually talking about a few minutes after you leave the car, even as you can’t stop smiling.

I rest my elbow on the passenger side window. His eyes stay on the road as his windshield wipers try their best to clear the water to no avail.

We’re almost at the bridge before our exit when we hydroplane.

I’ve hydroplaned before. But it wasn’t anything like this. Out of nowhere, water from some unseen puddle is splashing onto the windshield, almost like at the bottom of a water ride. My heartbeat skyrockets. The car swerves into the other lane as he tries to find solid ground.

A few seconds later, for the road and the small sedan on it, it’s like nothing has changed. But the mood inside the car has.

His first reaction surprises me. “Are you okay?” he asks.

I know that in a car that small we could have spun out, hit the concrete traffic barrier and died in an instant. But I say “yes” and I mean it. Because my heart knows that even if all we are destined to be are two college students working alongside each other for a couple months, with him I’m safe.

In the passenger seat of his car that I’ve made fun of a million times before, I’ll always be okay. ❦

This article is part of Intimacy, The Ubyssey’s 2022 sex issue. You can read more here.