Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sundays are for Storytelling: "Late"

Here's some fiction. I dragged it out, kicking and screaming. I never wrote a male subject before. He was really quite stubborn. 


This was ridiculous. Maddening. Embarrassing, even. But it wasn't unpredictable. Jake could admit that, at least.

He had planned to be late. He could play it off as fashionable and everyone would swallow it whole. But late would mean he could slide into the receiving line and hug her hello with a smile that wouldn't crack under the weight of I do and the kiss that slammed the door in his face for good.

Late would save him.

But he hadn't planned on getting lost. Or at least, not this lost. Passing through towns with names he'd never heard of, names like Tichigan that would make him laugh out loud and bounce one-liners off whoever was in the passenger seat. But exasperation had boiled out all his humor and the empty seat never even smiled at his jokes. But he was used to that by now.

Of course, her new guy never got lost, Jake was sure of that. He was too sensible. Too straight. And he probably always carried a smart phone.

Jake had disconnected his own cell line when he left a couple of years ago. He needed to live life untied, he had told her -- he needed to see things. She wouldn't come. But he understood. About safety and risk and not wanting to blow all that she had worked for. And he hadn't expected her to wait for him. Not really.

But now he was back, approaching her hometown from a totally different direction. He had never come out of the west before. The night felt dense this far from the city but the moon was full tonight. No matter how the road meandered that bright orb was always in view -- now in his periphery, now framed in the windshield. His own companion. He exhaled noisily. He would stop at the next gas station to orient himself. Maybe even buy a map.

The car's headlights peeled back the night. But when they reflected off a pair of eyes, he felt his own grow comically wide and he had just enough time to think deer in the headlights before the impact. And then it was too dark to see the stars, even. But he could feel the moonlight dripping into his eyes and suddenly he was glad he wouldn't get there at all. Late wouldn't have saved him from anything.