Page 50 - WTP VOl. IX #1
P. 50

 When Jack could not drive any longer, he pulled into a diner. Marcia stared over at him, but didn’t speak. She hadn’t spoken for 100 miles.
Jack said, “It’s far enough away.”
It was still an hour or so till dawn. The sky had turned slate, and he could see the black outlines of the pines against it. From inside the diner, a goldish light spilled out the windows. On the other side of the road lay the Mist River, black and glassy as obsidian.
Jack turned to glance into the back seat, where his son Shaid slept, his knees curled up to the side,
his cheek pressed against the seat back. He looked young for seventeen, despite his size, his long limbs. Like a younger boy, he gave the impression of not feeling at ease in his body. He had a wide, unremark- able face that had a slightly astonished expression even now, in sleep.
Jack reached his hand back to jostle Shaid’s knee, but Marcia touched his arm. “Leave it alone. He needs his sleep.”
Jack nodded. They could bring him something from the diner for when he woke up.
Inside, the diner was too warm and smelled of bacon grease. Marcia and Jack sat at a booth. Stuffing puffed out a crack in the vinyl seat. A gaunt blond woman brought a pot full of coffee, turned their cups upright, and filled them. Jack said he’d just have coffee. Marcia asked for dry toast.
“And pancakes,” Jack said. “A short stack to go, plus hashed browns.”
The blond woman nodded. She seemed tired. Not just tired that morning, Jack thought. Tired for years. She scratched their orders down on a pad and turned to go. Out of nowhere, Jack wanted to grab her arm and beg her to stay, to say something, to
tell the story of her life. Anything to keep him from the conversation that was about to happen. But the woman was turning away. He watched her walk back to the kitchen, her thin, veined legs tapering into white running shoes.
A raw silence fell over the table.
Marcia stirred her coffee, gazing down at the whirl- pool in her cup. She said, “No one saw.” She raised her
eyes and stared fiercely into his. “No one even knows we were camping up by Moosehead Lake. We told everyone we were going to Lucasville. We could still say we were at Lucasville, and no one would know the difference.”
“And Shaid?” Jack said. “He’s a kid. Kids talk.”
“He won’t say anything. He knows what might hap- pen if they find out.” Marcia lifted her coffee to her lips, but put it down again without drinking. “One thing about Shaid, he’s not a braggart. Some boys might boast about what happened, but Shaid doesn’t brag.”
Jack leaned back and put his hands on the table in front of him. “Brag? How could you brag about a thing like that? Brag! I can’t believe you’d use that word.”
“I just mean, you know. The way boys talk. But Shaid won’t talk about this. I know him.”
Jack turned to the window. He saw his own reflec- tion, a ghost of himself floating in phantom light. Behind it, the ribbon of black that was the Mist River. At the edge of the water, something small and pale bobbed against the bank.
It was their first vacation in two years. Jack didn’t take much time off from Dalton Industries. Marcia was the one who’d insisted, who said they needed it, that he and Shaid barely knew each other anymore. The truth of her words cut deep. It had been years since he’d been friends with his son.
They decided to drive into the mountains, where Jack and Shaid could fish and Marcia could read by the
The God of Trout
Jill JePson

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