She was laughing, and that was better. He leaned to kiss her cheek, a chaste, soft kiss that reminded her again of the two of them during that impossible summer twenty years ago. She didn’t pull away from him. She let him kiss her forehead, the top of her hair. She felt his fingers on her jaw and her neck, her chest and her back. He was examining her for injury. He was comforting himself that she was still whole.
“I’m okay,” she whispered into his arm. So tired of crying. “I’m not broken, David.”
He held his breath. His heart was pounding inside the rain. There was a sickening lift in her stomach when the Jeep creaked and slid. He braced his feet against the passenger door, holding her too tightly. Mud began pooling in the door handle. She watched a spider point fracture start in the centre of the glass and then spread with quiet music. It reminded her of a little girl’s jewellery box, in a way. Of a plastic ballerina turning slowly before the tiny mirror, checking and rechecking her composure, her perfection, and then stopping, arms lifted when the glass revealed its truth.
“David, we need to get out of the car.”
“I was so worried,” in a rush of breath. His voice was raw. His body shook. “I thought…. Because of me….”
She reached past him to the door handle, pressing her feet into the passenger seat. They looked like lovers in a phone booth, his hands on her thighs, her face in his neck, her arms wrapped around him while she fumbled at the latch. Like a risqué wedding cake topper left out in the rain when the banquet was over. That sickening lift again, and mud was welling to the windshield frame. A new spider crack formed at its edge.
“David.” She grabbed his face with both hands. She saw a flash of anger, and so much fear. “David, we need to get out of the car.” Enunciating slowly and clearly, speaking to his eyes.
With an economy of movement only possible between those who know each other’s bodies very well, they opened the door together. She shrieked when the cold rain hit her neck, and he almost laughed with her. They had been out in storms before. He turned so that his back could keep the door from closing, jamming his legs between the steering wheel and driver-side seat. She wrapped her legs around his waist, braced her arms against the doorframe, and pulled herself up and out. David lifted Barney to her, and the old dog looked so wet and cold and indignant at this night’s proceedings that she had to hug him close, giggling when she overbalanced and fell on her ass in the mud. What a fucking day.
‘C’mon.” Her soaking wet husband was standing beside her, after scrambling free of the car. His hair was wild. Black mud smeared his tee-shirt and caked his jeans. Barefoot and shivering, his shoes lost down the ditch with the Jeep, he looked at his crazy wife and her filthy dog and held out his hand.
© Desi S. Valentine, 2012