She builds emotional barricades, I try to touch her, but the construction is solid. Each attempt is stifled with a push away. To be wanted and to be needed appear for the first time to be completely different things. Feeling like a petty thief, stealing love I didn’t deserve. I sulk as I lay on the floor in front of the couch. If she was going to fall, at the very least I could be here to catch her.
An hour turns quickly into a day. The birds chirp as the morning comes once again. I lie there, wanting to touch her, to feel her being when there’s a knock at the door. I let the knocking continue when Yumi blurts out something close to “Are you fucking getting that?” My bones pop as I pick myself up from the floor. I open the door and the light is blinding. My eyes adjust, to my luck there isn’t a small boy with an envelope, shit I would have preferred that instead, but she stands there. “My Mom is waiting in the car, ready to go for brunch?” she asks. I feel vacant as the memory of the long-ago phone call comes to mind. “I’m not feeling too well.” I tell her, but she’s already walking in the door. “Doesn’t smell like sickness to me, have you been dri…” Her words trip on exit and come out mumbles as she catches sight of Yumi sitting up on the couch. This very moment my feelings mix into a cocktail of happiness and horror. “I, I see you’re not feeling very well, another time.” She leaves without saying another word. The door stays open as I stand there unprepared for whatever just happened. Yumi gives me an earnest look then asks “Who was that?” Closing the door I walk over to the couch and sit next to her. “A club member of the people’s lives I’ve royally fucked.” I try to wipe the emptiness from my face with my hand, but when it leaves the feeling remains. Slapping her hand onto my knees she gives me a tired smile and asks “There’s a club for that?” we chuckle, she doesn’t snort at the end. “Where’s the bathroom?” I point to its general direction and watch her disappear.
I sit staring at my cell phone, her number dialed, a thumb, my thumb hovers above the send button. Yumi walks into the room, water drips from her face. I question my idea of my beauty as I stare at her uncovered face. I make my answer when she sits next to me, that I couldn’t remember a time I have ever seen anything as beautiful. She sighs a tiny sigh and our eyes lock. We tread water together, staring deep into each other. “So?” she asks, darting her eyes to the floor ending the connection. “Let’s go.” I say in a stage whisper. Her eyebrows make a v as her forehead wrinkles. “Go where? What time are we going to?” she crosses her legs tight. “Now, let’s go now, not the dinosaurs or Abraham Lincoln, let’s just go to now. For a drive, the road is a fine medicine for the spirit.” she looks up from her wrinkled dress. “A drive? Really?” I take her hand and lift her from the couch. “Yeah, a drive.” I help her balance as she puts on her shoes. Noticing the phone is still in my hand I toss it onto the stack of envelopes. Grabbing the keys and my other wallet, we run outside, and hop into the car.
With the open road in front of us, the V8 hums a calming tone. She sticks her hand out the window, surfing the rushing air. Missing the sensation I stick my hand out the window as well. We soar our way pass the first state line.
Her head and hair drape over the middle of the bench seat as I pump gas into the gray guzzling beast. I am thankful that she’s not awake so I don’t have to explain fossil fuels. Setting the nozzle to pour I run inside the small station somewhere between Needles and nowhere. Opening the door to the car I slowly place the beer, energy drink and jerky inside. I guess it’s a good thing the dome light has been broken since I bought this car. Putting the nozzle back onto the gas pump as morning pokes its head over the horizon. I start the engine, it grumbles and she stirs. Shifting it to drive we pull from the gas station as she sits up. Smacking her lips together she catches sight of the beer, without saying anything she opens one. She crunches the can and throws it out the window. “So, are you going to tell me who that was back at your house, she’s not your other or anything right?” She stares at the disappearing stars. “No, she’s not my other. She was at one point, sometimes I fool myself into thinking she still is.” I try to draw my attention into the road, but she pulls it back. “So you love her then?” She asks her posture changes in the corner of my eye. “Love her, no, yes, I mean, maybe. These aren’t the right things to say are they?” I glance at her in time to see her head shake a long drawn out no. I clear my throat, “Yeah, I loved her more than anything, but I think that was the entire problem. I loved her too much, that I ruined it.” She scoots into the middle seat. Pressing her leg against mine she speaks. “I’ve ruined loves too, but that’s what it’s for. You fuck it up, and if you try to fix it, just maybe you’re alright.” I peck her on the forehead then reply. “Maybe, but I might not be done fucking things up quite yet.” She cracks open another beer with her right hand. Removing her head from my shoulder she drinks the entire can without pause. With a hiccup, she speaks. “Maybe we can fuck-up together?” I grin and tears swell in my eyes.
My eyes feel sore as I take an exit in Barstow. Pulling into the Save-A-Lot I set the car and us to rest under the shade of the solitary tree in the lot. “Why are we stopping? Is this it? It doesn’t look very impressive.” Without saying a word I climb over the seat and land with a thump on the back. I couldn’t tell if the seat was actually comfortable, or if I was just tired, but I was out within seconds of landing.
I wake-up hours later sweating like I had a fever. Her body drapes over me like a blanket just a little too small. “Hey, hey.” I try to wake her, but she doesn’t budge. With some effort, I free my arm from underneath her. It whips free and clanks against the empty beer cans on the floorboard. “Hey.” I say as I tap her shoulder. Waking up she looks up at me while wiping the drool from her lip. “Hey.” I utter again. “Hey.” she replies. I kiss her and it tastes like stale beer, but I couldn’t care less.
Wiping the condensation from the front window I start the car. She spills herself over the front seat. I start to drive off as she does an awkward dance to get back into her underwear. I drive down the street and find a place to replace the beer she drank. I get an extra pint and hurry back to the car.
The Sun stares me right in the face as I drive west as fast I could. “Is everything called San something over here?” she asks, I laugh a little then answer. “Pretty much everything.” She clicks on the old radio and moves the dials around. “I can’t get this to work!” frustrated she slaps the dash. Extending my hand I turn the dials until music comes through the speakers. The hum of the AM station gives a radiance to the Patsy Cline song. “So are you going to tell me where we’re going?” She asks, I smile, almost giddy. I crank the window down and let the fresh air fill the cabin. “Do you smell that?” Her nostrils twitch. “Yeah, smells like cabbage, but not, I don’t know! What is it?” She asks in an excited tone. “The road might be a fine medicine, but I can say the ocean is the best damn cure.” Her eyes go wide, she smells the air again and again. Trying to take it all in, to maybe hide it in someplace deep inside where no one could take it, or well, that’s what I was doing.
The road twists and shrinks as we get closer and closer to the destination. Feeling antsy she digs through the glove compartment. “Is this your notebook?” She asks showing the worn memo pad. “I think it came with the car, but if you dig deeper you might find a pen in there too.” She rustles through the contents in search for the rumored pen. So much so she doesn’t notice the car stop. The edge of the cliff slants on one side but gives a view of the wide blue grace. I tap her on the arm as she looks with pen and paper in hand. A gasp would have been something, but the air was stolen from her completely. Clearing my throat I speak in the most serious voice I could muster “When I don’t long for your arms, I long for hers” I feel embarrassed for a second, but she scares any embarrassment with her astonishment. “She’s, she’s, beautiful..” She closes her grip on the pen and memo pad.
We burn the hours before sunset in the case of beer. Laying in the sand our clothes attempt to dry in the Sun. Covered in wet sand and water she rolls next to me. Looking up the cliff face behind our heads she points to a spot that looks greener than the rest of the tree line on the cliff top. “Let’s build our house there, with trees and a garden.” I hug her closer. “That would be nice.” With necks aching we stare back at the ocean blue. “And when we’re gone, and the house is gone, the things we’ll plant will still be there.” She sits up and wraps her arms around her legs, she watches the Sun kiss the blue surface, the ocean blushes. I twist the cap off the pint and drink to the rest of the night.