This is the original piece from which Kate Kearney of More Than 1/2 Mad stole to create her piece, “Girls in Toasters,” this past Thursday. Go ahead and click one of those links; her piece should be read as the sequel to mine, so you may as well have it up and ready. I hope hers is the sequel to mine for the characters’ sake. There’s also some continuity between this piece and the earlier “What’s In Your Closet?”
Links to all the legal theft pieces of my thieving gang can be found here.
The windows of her car were the walls of her cage, and she wanted to scrabble her nails against the glass until someone noticed her and picked her up out of that cage to take her to a new home. Well, something like that. She was tired. She was tired, and the traffic was bumper-to-bumper and unmoving as ice in the winter—which only reminded her how hot she was. The window was down on the driver’s side, but she couldn’t reach the passenger’s side crank through the several boxes and the bags and the purse stacked on top of and around them. The A/C didn’t work well enough to be more effective than the rolled down window, and besides, really the problem was the sun, which baked the air in the car through the glass. Till she could rid the car of that hot air, the A/C would only be hardly effective—and some of the vents would be blocked by boxes and bags anyway. She worried about the electronics—particularly the laptop that sat in the front seat beside her, as securely as she could make it. Would the heat melt its parts together? That would be the worst ending to this long drive.
She’d been driving for hours, and there were still hours of driving ahead of her. The car was stuffed tightly as a Thanksgiving turkey with everything she’d been able to fit. She hadn’t wanted to leave behind as much as she had to leave.
There was a lot she hadn’t wanted to leave behind: the bookcase, the mattress, friends, a comfortable job, family….
But she went to friends—a few of them. Hopefully friends who’d be glad to see her. And this was a trip she’d made before. She’d left her family before. They’d been then the same number of miles away—give or take a few.
They were all growing up and moving away: she, the friends she had had in high school, the friends she had made in college. There was no real collection of friends anymore to return home to as there had always been. The closest she had to that were coworkers. They seemed relatively constant, but even they were a shifting ice floe, breaking apart and shifting away from one another. (There was that icy imagery again, reminding her of the heat, unable to cool her down as effectively as any ice cube would have done.) She needed a constant. And she was ashamed to admit it.
Maybe she was running. Maybe she was going home. She really wasn’t sure.
All she knew was that she’d be unduly glad to see the familiar, undulating horizon that framed I-81. She’d be glad of the mountains closing her in their embrace.