So it woke me up and I ran down to see if the man was home because I was going to beg him not to leave in this stuff. But he was gone. So then the chicken--I mean wiener dog--followed me back to bed and we laid there for another thirty minutes. And I looked at him and said, "Okay, I surrender, I'm getting up."
Now, I'm up, there is coffee brewing and I am trying my best to make sense! The man is at work safe and I am uploading part 21 of Wanderlust just for you. Good morning.
by Sommer Marsden
Clover leafs always make me dizzy—those being the name of the exits onto and off of the Beltway in Baltimore. I was a trooper, though, as Johnny hit one about thirty minutes from his apartment.
My ass slipped a bit on the seat and I clutched the door handle to keep from going too far. “One unknown convenience store coming up,” he said.
Growls emanated from my stomach and I blushed. “I think I’m hungry.”
Johnny shook his head. “I think I’m starved but you wanted some epic journey to a new convenience store.” He winked at me and I smiled.
“Just kidding with you, Snowflake. New store, new journey, new adventure.”
“Yes,” I said, the word sticking in my throat.
“Still okay.” He put his blinker on and it clicked like a metronome until he turned into the parking lot. A man rushed out with a tray of coffees followed closely by a woman clutching the biggest cup of coffee I’d ever seen.
“God the sun isn’t even up and they’re going to be damn near vibrating on caffeine.”
“Rat race world, Snowflake.”
Johnny parked the car nose-in to the store and I got out, my boots splashing in a puddle of melted snow. I was glad I hadn’t worn my already bedraggled flats.
“I’ll grab donuts, you get whatever—well, whatever it is you want here.” He locked the car and slammed the door.
Inside the store, it was warm and bright and smelled of caffeine, sugar and mop water. We split up. I went down each aisle and in the third one I hit the jackpot. Fake fried onion ring snack foods, potato chips, pretzels from Hanover, PA. I grabbed a few bags and then turned the corner into…nirvana.
My eyes beheld chocolate and sour candies and gummy fruit candies and I just started grabbing. I do not afford myself the luxury of junk food often. And in my world, it’s not the norm. Lobster and good cuts of meat and soufflés are the norm. Not candy that popped in your mouth when your spit hit it.
I think I grabbed one of everything. The clerk shoved my colorful mound of toxic colored snacks into two plastic sacks, giving me a frazzled, half-asleep smile. “Hungry?”
“Long trip,” I said. My eyes darted inadvertently to the security camera. Fear seized me for a moment, but let’s be real here. My father had money, he had some power, a lot of people feared him. But just as many people didn’t know who he was. I doubted he could have ever security camera in the state scoured for my image.
I handed the woman a twenty and a ten and she gave me a few coins in return. Her gray hair hung in her gray eyes and she straightened her gray smock. She was a monochromatic person if I’d ever met one and her personality matched.
“Well, have a nice trip, chickie.”
Another burst of psychotic butterflies in my belly. “I’ll try.”
Johnny was coming up the aisle from the donut display and I saw him with a tray of coffee. Opening my wallet again, I called, “Do you need—“”
“I’ve got it,” he growled, looking a bit annoyed.
He’d told me he didn’t want my money. But I didn’t think paying for coffee would be presumptuous of me. Apparently, I was wrong.
“I’ll wait outside then.” I headed out.
The air was cold and my breath fogged out of me in white spectral bursts. When he came out and unlocked he car and then popped my lock, I climbed back into the warm maroon womb of the car. I took the coffee he offered and sipped it, immediately burning my tongue.
“What’s in the bag?” He looked amused again.
“I don’t think that’s food, exactly.”
I ripped open the sack to show off my loot. “Look at it, I mean Christ, you’d think, to look at it, that I was pregnant or something.”
The air changed, his face changed, his demeanor. Strong fingers were suddenly gripping my arm and he had me gasping with pain. “Why the hell would you say that? Are you—”
“I have an IUD!” I blurted, seeing what looked like a mix of fear and rage in his blue-blue eyes. “But now’s a hell of a time to ask if you’re going to get so freaked out by it.”
“You’re right. I was fucking stupid. I should have made sure. But you’re not…I mean you don’t think—“”
“Johnny,” I whispered, “let me go. You’re hurting me. And not in a good way,” I added, as tears sprang to my eyes despite my best effort to hold them off. To not let him see me cry. “I was joking. That’s all. Joking.”
He let me go. Forcing his hands over his scalp he blew out a breath. “Sorry,” he said, but he wouldn’t look at me. The car rumbled when he turned the key and we pulled out into the traffic.
“What the fuck was that?” My heart hammered so hard my temples throbbed and no matter how much I swallowed a few fearful tears still slipped out. I turned my head toward the window so he wouldn’t see.
“I’m sorry,” he said. Still staring dead ahead at the road before us. His jaw so tight he looked made of stone. “I overreacted.”
“Fuck me, you think?”
“I said I was sorry, Aurelia,” he said, merging back into traffic.
“Take me home,” I blurted.
“No,” he said.
“What? Call on a cell phone you don’t have? Jump out going seventy on the beltway? Bang on the windows and scream?” He zipped into the fast lane and clicked the radio on, doing a search until we hit music.
“Take me home,” I said again.
“No.” He put his hand on the back of my head for a moment, stroking my hair. He left it there until my breathing returned to normal. We were headed to Pennsylvania judging by the signs. “Come on, Snowflake. I said I was sorry. I never claimed to be perfect. Or even nice.”
“Why not? Why won’t you take me back?” I whispered.
Those blue eyes locked on mine for a second and I felt his gaze all the way down in the pit of my stomach. “Because you don’t want to go home. You’re scared. It’s just an excuse.”
I turned my face to the windshield and tried to ignore the fact that he was right. On the fucking money. I didn’t want to go back. I was just terrified to go forward.
photo credit moi, local stuff...