Updated: Nov 15, 2020
“I’m not from around here.” Celeste had rolled down the window and locked the door before the man approached. “But I know this road.” She felt a bug crawling up the back of her neck. Slowly, she reached under her hair and extracted a large black beetle with giant antennae.
“You’re going to have to roll down this window further.” His eyes were grey-blue, intent on the insect. She shifted a little to expose herself to better advantage and handed him the bug. He grasped one of the antennae and set the beetle free. It landed on the windshield. “Some things just don’t go away until we address them.”
She leaned back against the head rest and closed her eyes. The car smelled of polish, smoke, perfume and packaging. Sweat and other male scents were making their way inside, altering the undertone of her centre of gravity, her self-ness. She knew where this path led.
“Now, about this car.” His voice was crushed gravel, manual labour, diesel.
“It’s mine. To drive. Where and how I see fit.” She leaned forward, opened her eyes and put the car into gear. “I advise you not to follow me.”
A flutter of burnt orange scarf at her throat gave Celeste the appearance of a hummingbird in full flight. She accelerated smoothly, careful not to spit up rocks. The man did not move. If she had returned two hours later, she would have found him asleep on the hood of his truck, waiting.
“Damn it.” Her delivery was now late. Celeste reached for the bottle of gin in the glovebox, then slowly retracted her empty hand. Like a taut wire, she tested the tension between responsibility and desire, curiosity and common sense. She lit a cigarette. Trees flashed past, stretches of blue water, suicide birds bounced off the grill. She did not slow down when shade barred her vision with temporary blindness. The cable of tension hummed.