Page 38 - WTP Vol. VIII #3
P. 38

 Idon’t know about this. Those were her first words as she climbed into the car, the man scooting in be- side her. No second thoughts, he encouraged. Remem- ber, we’re doing this for us.
I loaded their luggage into the hatch and once behind the wheel asked where to. The airport, the man said, international.
The moment I pulled away from the curb they began lip-mashing and I diverted my eyes from the mirror.
It made me uncomfortable, this unbridled affection, and it wasn’t until I cleared my throat that they disen- gaged, arranging themselves with a shuffle of cloth- ing. I could appreciate the fire they were giving into, that passion when the world falls away and it’s only you and your partner who matter. But there’s a time and place for everything and the backseat of my car wasn’t one of them. I asked if there was a particular route he wanted me to take. Travelers like a routine to steady themselves and breaking from it might cause uncertainty about what lay ahead. The man said he’d leave it up to me. I then heard her sigh, its meaning either resignation or nervousness. In a low voice he told her that everything would be fine.
In early evening the boulevard was claustrophobic, and I had no choice but to allow the traffic to carry
us along at its own rate. My hybrid eased along in silent mode, and since neither one of them urged me to escape the congestion, I assumed they had given themselves enough time for the calisthenics of check- ing in and going through airport security. Turned into themselves as they were, I didn’t enquire where they were headed but remained silent. Their evening flight suggested Europe or Asia, either destination feasible by the way they were dressed. You can tell first-class or business travelers from the rest of us. People step aside for them, while we stand in long lines wearing leisure apparel and complaining.
She said something to him I didn’t catch—not that I was listening—and he replied, He brought this on himself. The things you take for granted deceive you.
That’s what I’m doing, isn’t it? Deceiving him. You’re taking something for yourself. He has.
After a moment, she said, I don’t know if I want to be that kind of person. If this is revenge, count me out.
You’re being independent. As you should have been 31
all along. Come on, it’s not like we haven’t discussed this. You owe yourself some happiness.
This was what I never understood with Deanna.
Busy with our daily lives, we had lost touch with what had brought us together in the first place, the tenets of understanding slipping their moorings, our relationship drifting apart. Whatever we believed happiness was had to be worked towards and this was where we both had failed. I wasn’t aware of her dissatisfaction, that she needed to feel alive again, ex- hilarated, possibly reborn. It was a matter of percep- tion that carried her off, that sense she was missing something essential that I could no longer provide for her. Every day the media pummels us with what we think we need, convincing us that we deserve bet- ter. Deanna fell into that trap.
You’re right, the woman said. I can’t let guilt distort the facts. I just can’t believe we’re doing this, that’s all. It seems so final.
Beth, he said, talking about something is no good un- less there’s action behind it. Look, by this time tomorrow you won’t give him a thought. Leave your phone off. Let’s enjoy this.
She sighed again but this time it was one of accep- tance. The decision made would be followed through with and only time would confirm or deny the step taken. When I glanced at her eyes in the mirror, they now had a level determination, doubt having found
a home in the man’s speculative expression. Surety transferred to another can be lost by the one certain of its value, and I could see that it wasn’t only her struggling with what they were doing. It got me won- dering how long their journey would last.
At the airport I was directed by the man to by-pass the clutch of cars, taxis, and shuttles and pull up at the concierge curb beyond them. My fee already paid, there was nothing now keeping them from slipping from the back seat with a thank you and greeting the black-suited expeditor in front of the international terminal, who darted up and lifted their bags from the back and rolled them to his dais. Here are your boarding passes, he said. You can proceed directly through security to your gate. The man tipped him and walking away the woman turned slightly and gave me something like a wave as if she was leaving the past behind. That’s when I was summoned for my second fare of the night.
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