Driving South

 

“Tropical places like this are bloated and expensive,” he said. “And the people suck. They have no character.”

He hated living in Southern California town where she had grown up, and talked to her often about why it would be a horrible place to settle. He had perspective— being both older and smarter.

“Time to fly,” he said. He pulled her to his face and kissed her hard and deep. She slumped like a rag doll.

“Faces, too?” she asked. “All of our faces are bland and spoiled?”

“Yes, they are.”

“Yes!”

“And you are a wharf-model, even taking a morning walk. You are a sea-air model just for letting the dog pee near the Breakwater.”

But she was just out of high school, still living with her mom.

When she kissed him back, she felt the tide roll in and out. He was helping her grow up in ways she had never imagined.

“What do you think about us going right up to Alaska?” she asked.

“Apartments are better there, but the food is very costly. And it’s all iceberg lettuce, guns, monster SUVs in Alaska,” he said.

He knew this stuff. He knew so much about so many places, had been there and lived there and fucked many women who fucked him back expertly. She imagined them with eye wrinkles, Greek noses, thick curtains of black hair.

She lay on his mattress and raised her right leg toward the ceiling, twirling her toes and watching them carefully. She had to stop watching herself this way. She imagined her fourth toe all hammered and bent, locked.

“Well, then where?” she asked. For a second she imagined them living in a hut made of milk cartons on the street. Then she remembered he loved her.

She unbuttoned his shirt and kissed him in a clockwise circle, all the way around his bowl of chest. Like a drunk car on the highway, her lips followed the road of his soft hair. She could taste the salt of a tidal basin.

She thought about getting ugly and old with him in a place like Utah and her eyes crinkled, she nearly cried.

In a serious voice, as though training a puppy, he instructed her not to stop— to keep kissing him just like this. So, she kept going and going, driving south, as though only she could make him love where she lived.

 

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

Meg Pokrass is the author of the forthcoming novella-in-flash Here, Where We Live (Rose Metal Press, 2014) and Damn Sure Right (Press 53) a collection of flash fiction. Meg’s stories have been widely anthologized, most recently in the forthcoming W.W. Norton Anthology of Flash Fiction International. Her flash-fiction and micro-fiction stories and humor pieces have appeared in around a hundred and fifty online and print publications, including McSweeney’s, PANK, Smokelong Quarterly, Mississippi Review, The Literarian, storySouth. She currently serves as an associate editor for Frederick Barthelme’s New World Writing.

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