Rest Stop, 2 miles the sign read. It leaned at a near forty-five degree angle on the shoulder of I-25, southbound to Pueblo. Rachel sighed, then squirmed in the driver’s seat of her forest green Subaru, attempting to awaken the sleeping nerves in her backside and simultaneously assuage the incessant ache of her full bladder. She glanced over, out of the corner of her eye, at an extra large travel coffee mug in her console. If her goal was to travel swiftly, so as to be home before her husband returned from work – that was her goal – she’d done herself a disservice by ingesting such an oversized beverage. Rachel never could hold her coffee; she often lamented that she’d been born with the bladder of a small rodent.
Approaching the exit, she checked the green numbers on her car’s stereo – 11:32. She was making decent time, but decent was not good enough, not today. Based on the calculations she’d roughly figured for the day’s rendezvous, she needed to be departing for home by no later than 1:30; even then, were she held up by anything more than moderate traffic, she wouldn’t have time enough to stop at her sister’s, pick up the baby, and make it home before her husband, and it was essential she be home first, or she’d be forced to answer difficult questions, forced to lie. She was a lousy liar, not because she wasn’t convincing, but because she always felt guilty for it and would tend to sacrifice pieces of herself in order to make up for her deception.
With Pueblo yet an hour off, the clock didn’t leave her much margin for error. It had been years over years since she’d visited the home of her past love. Finding the place was no issue – thank God for GPS – but the circumstances she’d need to overcome once she arrived were cumbersome. There would be some sneaking involved. Sneaking consumes time, and she did not have much time. Reluctantly, shifting again in her seat, forcing herself to ignore the mounting pressure in her bladder, she passed the rest stop by. It angered her that she had to put herself through such discomfort. She blamed him. If he weren’t such an insensitive jerk, she would not be forced to do things like this. There would be no stressing, no rushing around on six hour long car trips. She wouldn’t be constantly on the verge of losing her mind, on the verge of losing herself in the madness of the world, on the verge of forgetting her own name. On the verge of pissing her pants, for God’s sake.
She whispered a curse, reached and picked up the extra large travel mug – empty, it’s contents processed and deposited in her overripe organ fifty miles ago. What’s wrong with me? I’m going crazy! She pitched the cup across the car, and it clanged helplessly against the passenger door. Something about the sound, the empty sound, triggered an unexpected flow of tears. The empty cup – that was her – empty, inanimate. She choked on a sob. It was common for her these days, the crying. Tears often snuck up on her like a sudden car accident, the sort you find yourself in when you’re distracted with something – looking down to change the radio station and WHAM! Didn’t see that big ass Buick stop dead, right in front of you! Didn’t see despair walk up and clock you in the chest while you were preoccupied with looking right, not until the breath was yanked from your lungs, and you were left gasping for life, while despair, that cold bastard, dragged your limp form away and locked you in a glass box.
Rachel pressed further on the accelerator. She’d been doing ten over the limit; she’d make it fifteen. Anything more would be too risky. She would not be able to explain away a speeding ticket received over a hundred miles from home. She envisioned the conversation – the one she’d be forced to have in case of such a catastrophe, how she’d have to explain the inexplicable, for she scarcely understood herself why she was doing what she was doing. She only knew that most days she felt like she was trapped, suffocating from lack of oxygen inside the glass box, and she felt she’d be able to breathe in Pueblo. There’d be space in Pueblo. There would be her beloved. He’d be there. Had to be.
Categories: fiction stories