Half asleep, looking out the side window of the car at 6 something in the morning. Wrapped up in a sweatshirt that she should be wearing she is curled up in a ball. Right shoulder scrunched against an old pillow --legs goosebumped and stiff, propped under her thighs. She doesn't know I can see her as I pump the gas. Doesn't know I watch her catlike yawn and stretch, one eye open one closed. I would give her a blanket or a quilt if I had one, but I don't. I only have that old sweatshirt and an old car and another 22 hours in the car.

She leans towards the armrest and blinks sleepy eyes at me as I top off the tank and put up the pump handle. Mouths a single word to me, silent but plaintive :


I nod my head and give her a little wink. Trying to look confident despite the circumstances. She sends back a little smile then closes her eyes as she clutches the sweatshirt around her chest fighting back the chilly morning. When I bring the coffee back, she won't drink it but I bring it just the same. Because she likes the smell and she will hold it in her hands just to warm herself up. And because she asked for it. Because I can't tell her no. That's where we are headed, that's where we are.

Chilly maybe, but not cold.

I spent time winding and unwinding the slack of the seatbelt between my fingers. We were on our way home, or to her house at least, I am not sure she ever really called it home. From here I could see the side of her face placed over the rushing past city along with most of the dashboard. There were big airplane-console like switches to flip with a satisfying snap, they would illuminate in murky greens and flashing danger reds. Five thousand years of civilization spent point focused to bring us these good things. Cruise control and windshield wipers, broken left turn blinker passing cars in the fast lane. It had been cloudy threatening to rain all day so we were bundled up in sweaters and scarves, fall was always a good excuse to dress up cute and half young again.

It had been waiting for us though, to let go at the perfect moment. Like it knew on that day that it was us alone of them all that would appreciate it properly. One two, three. Four. A couple more.

"...it might finally rain"

It stopped. I watched her under the almost deafening hum concrete and tires going fast, she leaned forwards over the steering wheel arms folding to cradle it. Peering forwards squinting and trying to divine whether that was all the sky might release tonight. Nine, ten, eleven. She looked skeptical. She was waiting for more, hand on the windshield wiper switch ready. Twelve. She stared at the last drop trying to make sure it was just one not two, then back to looking at the road but still hunched over the wheel. She seemed content, or maybe angry. We didn't talk anymore for the rest of the trip, I just closed my eyes and swayed back and forth with the car on road.

I opened my eyes a little. She flipped the wipers on and all twelve smeared away, I wouldn't have done that to them. I always liked to watch the little drops cling tight and dance jittering in the wind. We never were the same deep down, or maybe even much on the surface.
She liked Chinese food and I preferred Mexican. Trivial, I know, but it said a lot about our personalities. She was mysterious and wrapped in layers I could never pry open. I had a flair for the exotic and enticing, though I rarely gave in to that side of myself.

I was half dreading going to her 'home' but I was also sure that it would bring us closer. The enchanting sparkle in her eyes would finally let me in, let me know where it came from and why it disappeared somedays. I assured myself that we would move past her loss together, stronger than before, and make a home of our own. Someplace to park the car and a ceiling to gaze at on restless nights. A place with grass and blankets, with windows and coffee cups.

She was driving slower now as the rain dripped from the overburdened clouds, sharing in her grief with tears of their own. She looked oddly comforted and strangely renewed, but I guess rain can do that to a person. Make you feel warm inside even though your skin is screaming. Refresh your soul while reminding you that you are not in charge of your life, the weather, or the world. You are merely there to find your other half. And I had found her.

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