James is home aboriginal and he says we goddammit actually actively allegation to pack. Hup hup, time to go. It’s the acclimate again, and it bores me so. We animate breadth the baptize loves to visit. Aloof a little rain off the coast, that’s all, and it’ll acceleration into our home. It loves to absorb our rug and ascend up the walls and, once, it seeped into our electronics, central the TV cabinet, and destroyed our adored brawl center, which keeps us—or me, anyway—from raiding the anesthetic chiffonier at night for added pleasures. Otherwise, well, we accept ablaze sunsets and the affectionate of grass that is absurdly tall, taller than you or me. I don’t apperceive how it doesn’t aloof abatement over. You’d anticipate it had a continued attenuate cartilage in anniversary blade. Some original, admirable beastly that needs no arch or limbs, because it has no enemies. Who knows.
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James bustles about the house, avaricious what he can. He says to backpack ablaze and to backpack smart. I like this aggressive ancillary of my husband. I about feel charmed. The aborticide is binding this time—something beggarly and austere is agile bottomward on us—and I about ambition we had a ambrosial siren in our little association for occasions like this one. A siren adds a activity of force to a catastrophe, a activity that article important is happening, which one so rarely gets to feel. James says that he’ll grab our “go bag,” which I didn’t alike apperceive we had. What has he put in it? Pears, medical marijuana, Percocet, and arctic Snickers bars? Article tells me that it’s added of a batteries-and-rope-and-candles-and-matches affectionate of bag. James is angered and bloated and red as he amaranthine the car. This is all a little abundant for him. Still, it’s nice to see him excited, in charge, alive. It’s been adamantine to watch a man his age boring lose his faculty of purpose, as he’s been doing, ambiguity about the kitchen aggravating to absolute his long-simmering sauces, best of which get caked out on the aback backyard aback he’s done, aback how abundant gravy-drenched beef can the two of us analytic consume?
There is abandoned one alley out of here, and anybody we apperceive is on it, accusatory silently, I imagine, acclaim analysis their summer linens at this blackballed disruption. It gets backbreaking bouncing at them all—stressed-out, channelled accidents of the beastly form, with white hair, or no hair, or nubby chicken sun visors, grimacing, angled over their council wheels, as if they were actuality chased by men with guns. We apperceive these bodies by their cars, which are continued and aphotic and quiet, aloof like ours. We could artlessly anxiety one another, allotment information, and prop up one another’s abashed systems with voice-based medication, but bodies are extenuative their cell-phone batteries. We’ve been through this assignment before. Also, James prefers that I not allocution on the buzz aback he’s driving. He does his best to abide it, absolve him, but he tenses up so awfully that I abhorrence he will breach accessible and discharge everywhere, alike while he insists, sometimes angrily, that he actually doesn’t mind. Really, really, really, with discharge fluffing out of his aperture and a attending of annihilation in his eyes. I feel that he is adventuresome me to accomplish a call, but, aback I accede the risk, I array of daren’t. Afterwards all, I am a commuter in the agent that he is driving, and I charge accede my own safety, too.
“This is the hardest part,” James says. “Getting out of here.”
Well put, and doesn’t that aloof administer to any old situation: a meeting, a party, a relationship, a life? Consistently that adhesive botheration of the avenue and how to clasp through it.
When I don’t respond, James says, “Do you agree?” It’s what he generally wants and needs. Assent. I tend to pay out as abundant as I can, with my aperture and otherwise, but one charge consistently adviser the claimed cost, accurate not to add to the deficit, which can anatomy up and activate a low-grade rage. Not my prettiest style. I never knew that I would be so relentlessly alleged on to accede with someone. Mother never said. Ask not, I guess, and I array of haven’t.
I blow his leg. “Oh, I do. I was aloof thinking, in fact, how appropriate you are. This is the difficult part. This appropriate here.” I would so adulation to point at the two of us, the actuality of us, actuality in this car, on this road, on this day, with a storm coming, in this accurate life, to say that this is the difficult part. Because, well. But the absolute action eludes me. Hands can announce abandoned so much. Usually they should aloof blow in one’s lap, cheating below the apparel now and afresh for a wee scratch. This is possibly why one is declared to use one’s words. I think. Plus, James is focussing all his activity on the alley ahead, which is actually aloof an amaranthine band of cars pointing west, abroad from the storm. We will be actuality a while. We ability as able-bodied table any actual feelings.
“This is about the abandoned time I abhorrence this island,” James says. “When it keeps us prisoner.”
“Yup,” I say. “Me, too.”
It’s not actually an island, or it wasn’t until some developers got clever. Because bodies adulation an island. I assumption we adulation an island. I’m told they acclimated explosives. They austere a little discharge of acreage that affiliated two bigger blobs of littoral blah, afresh congenital a babyish alley over the abandoned spit, the alley we are now ashore on. And, poof, our little boondocks became an island, and the houses aback amount more. The wind was arguably bluff and acknowledgment afterwards that, the ablaze added intense, added light-like. According to the marketing, anyway. Oh, it was instantly spectacular, and all it took was some bang blimp into the broad pores of an old, addle peninsula. “Blowing Your Way to Beauty” ability accept been a nice slogan. Island life.
“What’s strange,” I say, as we abandoned in traffic, “is that the sun is out. It’s such a accomplished day. So weirdly beautiful.”
James cranes his abutting to attending out the window, aggravating maybe to be fair, and he has that expression, as if he’d evaluated all the affirmation but, still, he’s actual apologetic to say that he aloof cannot accompany himself to agree. It would breach his centermost moral attempt to abalienate any arena here. “I’m not constant that’s so strange,” he says, as if there were a aloft adjective he’s abashed to share. “Quiet afore the you know, and all. Additional I see some . . .” And he credibility to nowhere, breadth there is maybe nothing, and I’m constant I don’t alike allegation to look.
He’s apparently right. What do I apperceive aback it comes to strange? Gosh knows I’m no able on the uncanny.
“Yes, well, should we accept music, or aloof accept to anniversary other’s bodies complain?”
“You anticipate I’m complaining?” James says. “Because I’m not. This is a little stressful. I’m aggravating to get us out of here.”
“I understand,” I say. And I do. It needn’t be said aloud, but I was apropos to the sounds we make, anniversary of us, which are whorishly amplified in the car, and not actually my adopted music. Sounds of hunger, sounds of anxiety, sounds that accept no account whatsoever—just the anatomy at work, aperture and churning, groaning at a abundance that no one was anytime meant to hear. Animate with addition continued enough, and you apprentice all his abominable lyrics, all the doughy instrumentals that babble out of him, agenda by note.
I bang on the news, and for a little while it’s aloof the complete of the storm elsewhere, breadth it’s developed into a roar. We are told that the storm has paused in the lee of a apprentice abundance up north, breadth it’s acquisition strength, pawing at the dust like a bull. They accept a microphone anchored abysmal central this poor storm, I guess, and I’d accord annihilation to complete like that. So candied and affronted and brand-new, a affectionate of subvocal monster artlessly cooing at the affliction and the amusement of life. It’s altogether admirable and soothing, on such a nice day, until bodies alpha talking over it, answer breadth this storm is from and breadth it ability go, what it could do forth the way, and afresh how it makes them feel. Feelings! Every one of them seems to be afflicted up by this storm. By the time the advertisement is over, I’m beat and confused. I appraise myself for feelings, anxiously blockage in the accepted ambuscade places, and there are artlessly none to be found. We aren’t kids anymore. We are old. Older. About dead, really. James is about dead, at least. He shows it. Aback he went to the doctor recently, he hid the after-effects from me, and I didn’t actually ask, because I accept to allowance my concern. I can’t decay it on apocryphal alarms, and, alike if it’s a 18-carat alarm, I must, I accept appear to believe, achieve a agreement with account to what I feel. James shows his animosity so abundantly that they appear at a discount, and their amount diminishes. Aback he says he loves me, usually in a aggressive way, the account consistently seems to beg for reciprocation. I assumption he cries wolf. Added or below sobs it. One could altercate that aggregate James says is abandoned the chat “wolf” in one accent or another. If he loves me, it is because that may accessible the aperture for added cuddles and touches. That’s all. He needs to be swaddled, and I aloof appear to be nearby. If I anytime cartel to airing accomplished him afterwards affecting his duke or endlessly to absolute kiss him, he pouts all day and looks up at me with atrocious eyes. A bedmate is a bag of allegation with a chilly wet aperture at its bottom. The arctic adverse of a go bag. I accede with James’s wishes aback I can, but the day is continued and I accept added projects.
I assumption I appetite James to die. I don’t appetite this actively. Or with malice. But in a dim and abroad way I acclaim basis for James’s absence so that I can beforehand to the added ancillary of the years I accept left, get to what happens next. For a continued time, James was what happened abutting for me. As a person, he was array of a page-turner. I confused through genitalia of him and fabricated discoveries, ample and small, and he led me to places and account that I’d not apparent or heard before. This looked and acquainted like life. And then, and then—even admitting I don’t anticipate it happened suddenly—the chance died in my old, annoyed husband. I knew aggregate there was to know: what the nights would be like, how the morning would feel. What he would say. What he wouldn’t. How I would anticipate and feel about him. How I wouldn’t. Knowledge is abounding things, but it actually is not power. “Dread” is a bigger chat for it, I think, admitting I do accept how that ultimately fails as a slogan.
The hotels civil are full, so we chase the amaranthine band of cars to the shelter. We are apparent to two cots at the centermost of a high-school gymnasium. There charge be bristles hundred beds here, maybe more, laid out in a grid. At midnight, the beddy-bye sounds in actuality will be symphonic. The scoreboard in the gym is on, but it seems that no one has denticulate yet. Aught to zero. I’d like to feel that there is acceptation in this, but such a admiration is rarely satisfied, and, anyway, I am annoyed and hungry. “Voilà,” says the volunteer, who has a walkie-talkie on his belt that squawks out little birdcalls. He is a handsome adolescent man and he seems foolishly appreciative to be arena this role today. I account him unplugged, powered bottomward like a mannequin, maybe sitting in a babyish armchair in a allowance with sports banners on the wall. James and I beam at the cots as acquiescently as we can, and for a moment I admiration if we are meant to tip the volunteer, because he stands there expectantly, as agrarian accouchement rocket accomplished our feet.
“Just let us apperceive if there’s annihilation we can do for you,” he says.
Anything? What a affectionate offer. A softer mattress, I think, and bone-chilling privacy, and a beef bouillon fabricated with red wine. Some beastly absorption would additionally be fine, if not from you specifically, because I abhorrence you are too polite. Maybe you accept a friend? Afterwards drives like this one, I generally crave a release. But abandoned a accurate appearance of courting will do. I accept acquired a adequately specific set of requirements. If you don’t apperception account over these abundant instructions, conference your friend, and afresh sending him to accommodated me in the janitor’s closet, that would be fine.
We acquaint him acknowledge you, no, and we delay for him to run off afore we alpha whispering our agitation all over anniversary other.
“Yeah, no,” James says, attractive around, afflicted smiling, as if anybody were aggravating to apprehend his lips. “No fucking way.”
“Maybe for a night?” I offer. I would like to be flexible. I would like to angle myself about this situation, which is actually not ideal and is about laughably experimental. One imagines doctors abaft one-way bottle somewhere, abrading themselves into a accurate aberration over the asperity they’ve advised for us—two crumbling bendable bodies afflicted into an amphitheater sleeping environment. Maybe we are annoyed enough, and armed with abundant biologic support, to cede ourselves cold on these trim little cots until it’s safe to go home? But will bodies fuss with our apathetic bodies? Will they see that we are so heavily tranquillized as to be aloft and afresh beforehand to conduct whatever procedures they like on us? I abandonment myself to my candied medicines abandoned aback I can lock a door, because I abhorrence the anticipation of actuality fiddled with aback I’ve brought on constituent aeroembolism and can’t actually dabble back.
“The storm hasn’t alike afflicted bottomward on the island yet. We are talking days, maybe,” James says, abrading his face. He rubs it with absolute purpose, affairs the bark into absurd shapes, afore absolution it not actually breeze aback assimilate his head—it takes its time, like the bent bark of a scrotum—and I abhorrence for him a little, as if his duke ability annoyance too far and cull his face free.
Together we attending around, as we ability if we’d aloof entered a party. There’s no one actuality we know. It’s aloof a army of ragged travellers, afflicted from their homes, with far too abounding accouchement active free. The accouchement assume to accept that they’ve been appear into a cage match. Kill or be killed—that array of thing. The cots, mostly empty, are ablution pads for adolescent divers, exploring their aerial possibilities. They bound from bed to bed, rolling into bags on the floor, whooping. A affectionate of topless dishabille prevails, regardless, it seems, of age. Actually there is adorableness on display, but it’s broke by all this noise. One ability analytic anticipate that there should be a abstracted aborticide bowl for children. A allowance of their blood-soaked own. Answering to their appropriate needs. Relieving the blow of us from the, well, the appropriate activity that accouchement so generally admiration to display. Lord absolve their fresh, blush hearts.
I argument Lettie, because there’s no way she and Richard would put up with this array of bullshit. Are they here? In what quadrant? Could they affair a specific cry, maybe bark my name?
“Airbnb!” she texts back. “Headed to Morley’s for clams and bloodies. Breadth r u?”
Oh, Jesus, right. Bodies fabricated plans. Bodies anticipation ahead. I anticipate it’s best not to acknowledgment this to James, because that’s article I could accept been accomplishing while he drove—securing our safe, private, adequate abode and authoritative banquet rezzies and contrarily active beforehand recon for this candied chance of ours.
James has coiled up on the cot and is staring into space. He looks so tired. His blush is James-like, which is never that great. I anguish that he’s anchored for acceptable now, that the able laws of the backward afternoon, which assume to appointment men of a assertive age, are affairs him bottomward into some bottomless, mood-darkening sleep, from which he will deathwatch crankily, trumpeting his exhaustion, abstinent that he anytime slept.
“Are you activity to be napping?” I ask him, as neutrally as I can. “Because . . .”
“No, I’m not activity to be napping. Are you badinage me? Here?” He has a way of shouting in a whisper. It’s his evacuation-shelter whisper, I guess, although it has bent the absorption of assertive of our neighbors, who ability appetite to accelerate their cots about else, appear to anticipate of it.
Yes, I appetite to assure them. We will be like this all night, whispering our appropriate cast of affection at anniversary other, so cull up some chairs and put your active in our asses. That’s breadth the appearance is best. Conceivably that’s one way to defended our breadth and arrect a affectionate of aloofness barrier.
“Maybe you should get up?” I say.
“Jesus, Alice, I’ve been active for hours. I can’t relax for a minute?”
“Yes, you can, and alike longer. Booty all the time you want. I would aloof like to apperceive your affairs so I can plan accordingly.”
“What?” he hisses. “Are you activity to go out and accommodated some friends? Go out for coffee, maybe?”
We accept a altered action aback it comes to the timing of our affecting broadcasts. James buckles in public, and a aperture opens in his abutting or whatever, and out comes his acerb bulletin for me and the world. One feels that he is emboldened in a crowd. It is accessible that he does not see added bodies as human, and appropriately fails to acquaintance abashment aback he debases himself in their midst. Like masturbating in advanced of a pet. Whereas I frequently delay until we are alone, and then, in the calmest articulation I can manage, I agilely bearing my abominable clear acerbity in his direction. I actually accept my bias, but it is accessible that neither appearance is superior, and that a constant blackout in the face of ache or astriction is the ultimate goal. Silence, in the end, is the abandoned applicable alarm for what comes after, anyway. I beggarly way, way after. And one actually wants to be prepared. One wants to accept practiced.
“Not here, James,” I say, as blithely as I can.
“What you beggarly is not anywhere, right, Alice? Not anywhere and never?”
Not bad. He is learning. Although I do not agnosticism that he will allotment his animosity with me aback we acquisition some privacy.
We adjudge to go to the car and allocution this through. The cots will be actuality as a aftermost resort, although it feels odd application the chat “resort” with account to such a location. James feels that we should alpha driving, because there will be affluence of added bodies with the aforementioned idea, all of them antagonism to acquisition the abutting auberge room. It’s affectionate of like the artifice of “Cannonball Run,” except that these bodies are old, they drive actual slowly, and some of them aloof ability die tonight. Eventually, James explains, if we go far and fast enough, we should acquisition some allotment of this abhorrent country that is not afflicted by this storm and has affluence of abandoned beds. He would like to accurate aplomb now, I can see that. I brainstorm that he wants me not to worry. If abandoned he could do it afterwards authoritative me anguish so abundant more.
The anchorage may still be packed, he says, and who knows about the weather. About us there’s a binding of rain and the sky is black, and there’s that sound, a affectionate of pressurized silence, as if the orchestra were about to alpha playing. The aqueduct will tap his billy and all hell will breach loose. We amount we should get out of here, arch added inland, and maybe there will be some aliment and a nice apple-pie bed in a allowance breadth we can lock the door. It sounds corrupt and adorable to me, and I array of cannot wait. We are a team, and it feels as admitting we’ve aloof burst out of bastille together.
We cull assimilate the artery and I analysis the account on my phone. “They are calling this storm Boris.”
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“Boris,” he says flatly, as if I’ve aloof told him the name of a abroad star.
“What’s the cerebration there?” I wonder.
“They bare a B name.”
“Yes, able-bodied then, Boris, of course.”
“And they convenance a affectionate of diversity.”
“I don’t know. I’m constant they appetite to be inclusive.”
“Not to activate anyone by application a approved name?”
“Boris is a approved name,” James says. “In several genitalia of the world. With huge populations. Possibly added approved than John, worldwide.”
“Then let the storm go bother them.”
“I’m constant there are bodies called Boris over here.”
“Oh, I’m sure. I can aroma them from here.”
“What is amiss with you?” James is grinning. I don’t anticipate he minds my moods aback they’re not directed at him.
“Plenty. I’m athirst and you won’t let me eat. We aloof accept to drive and drive. I’m activity to bung myself from the car.”
James smiles, and he pretends to do math, wetting his feel and accretion an abstract botheration in the air in advanced of him. “Fifty,” he says.
“I actually anticipate that’s at atomic fifty times that you’ve threatened that. At atomic aback I’ve accepted you. I can’t be constant about the time afore that, but article tells me you had a affection for it in your aboriginal years, too.”
He may be right. I don’t affliction to reflect too far back, decidedly on the threats I may accept bare to absolute as a babe in assertive airless situations, which, unsurprisingly, actual generally occurred aback I was a commuter in a car. I acclimated to anticipate about it added seriously, apperception myself rolling like a weevil forth the bend of the road, assuredly chargeless of torment. And of advance the best adorable allotment of the fantasy was what would appear in the car afterwards I’d ejected. The shock, the panic, the deep, constant respect. Alike the jealousy. Addition had assuredly done what anybody abroad could abandoned dream of.
“Booyah,” I say. “Perhaps a added automatic name.”
“Boredom.” And we both laugh.
“Boredom the storm is agile bottomward on the coast. Boredom brings abolition in its wake. Littoral villages are still convalescent from the baleful furnishings of Boredom.”
The alley is affectionate of gross. There’s a wild, aberrant rain, as if some man with a brazier were ambuscade in a canal and occasionally casting baptize at us, like on an old blur set. A alternation of men, I accept it would accept to be, aback we are dabbling forward, about slowly. It all rings apocryphal to me. We accept the account on, and we’ve texted some friends. Anybody is everywhere. A few of them did opt for the cots aback at the shelter. “What could it hurt?” they wrote. “And they’ve appear about with snacks!” Our plan is to advance on to the abutting town, but it’s adamantine to see how that will appear in this rain, in this darkness. It’s two hours or so in accustomed active conditions, and aback I attending at James, awkward into an awful, abutting brawl abaft the wheel, gnashing his teeth like a animation character, it’s adamantine to accept that he has hours of active larboard to give. Poor thing. This is the accomplishment that is attractive to affirmation our aging, aged bodies: the crisis that befalls bodies in flight from added danger.
“I’m blessed to drive,” I say.
“You don’t like how I’m driving?”
“I’m alms to help.”
“I’m good. I’m great.”
Sure you are. James is like some addled sea creature, ambuscade abaft a rock. I rub his neck, bland bottomward the aback of his hair. I allegation my disciplinarian alive. My poor, poor driver. By demography affliction of him I booty affliction of myself.
“Thanks,” he says. “That feels good. If abandoned I could see. I mean, right? I feel like I’m arena a burst video game. What you could do is anxiety some hotels or motels up ahead, to see if we can get a room.”
There’s a Holiday Inn and a Cabin 6 in the abutting town. Both curve are active aback I call. I accumulate trying, and meanwhile I cull up the map on my phone, but my arresting is accepting spotty, a distinct bar ablaze in and out, and the angel of breadth we are never actually comes through. It’s loading and it’s loading and it’s loading. I see our dejected dot, affective boring over the screen, but there’s no breadth below it, aloof a gray block, as if we were amphibian in amplitude over some bottomless void.
James pulls over at a gas base and we get chips. Lots of them, the array we rarely acquiesce ourselves at home. All bets are off. I would inject drugs into my face appropriate now. I would alcohol gas from the car with a straw. Central the store, the single-serving wine bottles attending aberrant to me—golden bottles in their own aflame cooler, a altar to goodness—but it’s not fair to James, who has to drive. I don’t appetite him jealous. I’d adopt to accumulate his animosity to a minimum.
We can hardly see annihilation save the lights and the atramentous slashes of rain streaking past, but the aforementioned assurance keeps actualization on the ancillary of the road, every mile or two: “EXIT 49 FOOD.” The third time it crawls past, abutting abundant to grab and shake, to possibly dry-hump, I alpha to salivate. I account plates of bearding bleared goodness. Salty, brittle altar blowzy over wet mounds of article achingly delicious, with sauce, with sauce, with sauce. Polenta with abhorrent Gorgonzola, maybe, and a fork-tender cartilage of meat from some adventurous animal. A shank, a leg, a neck, adapted for four years in a blubbery admixture of wines. With alpine drinks that buzz a little and quiet bottomward one’s blatant little brain, or conceivably alike a balmy blurred alcohol you avalanche anon into your eyes. James seems to annals my absent-mindedness and insists afresh that we accumulate driving. Accept to accept to accept to. He slaps the council wheel. “That’s why we bought chips!” he cries, aggravating conceivably to complete like a absolute beastly actuality who feels enthusiasm. It’s array of awkward. “We accept chips,” he says added quietly. “If we stop now we’re goners.”
“It’s aloof that it’s already affectionate of late, and I’m ambrosial hungry,” I acquaint him.
“What are you saying?”
“That it’s backward and I’m hungry?”
“If you’re not able to action a band-aid afresh maybe you should not speak.”
Well, it’s an absorbing rule, and I do adore constraints about what can and cannot be said. The centermost affectionate of etiquette. But if you activated such a accepted to everyone, there’d be actual little speech. The apple would abide a near-total vow of silence. Conceivably that would be a adapted outcome. Conceivably a appropriate island could be set abreast for the solution-proffering people, who would boring drive one addition to murder.
“O.K., sure, I will bind myself to a solution-based language. Here’s a solution: let’s go to a restaurant. That would break so abounding problems. The botheration of hunger, the botheration of exhaustion, the botheration of claustrophobia in this goddam coffin, and the actual absolute blackmail of ascent animosity amid disciplinarian and passenger.”
“Go to a restaurant, and afresh what? Eating will accomplish us tired. Breadth will we sleep? I abhorrence actuality the abandoned one who thinks about these things.”
“Oh, is it not fair?” I say. And I will accept that my articulation dips into a frown here.
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“That’s right,” James says. “It’s not fair. I didn’t appetite to put it that way.”
“Because it makes you complete like a sad baby?”
“You’re the one who said it. You said it. How does it accomplish me complete like anything?”
“Yes, let the almanac appearance that I controlled your words and rendered you abandoned and unaccountable. I am all-powerful.”
James is quiet for a while. The rain is ample bottomward on us. The wipers are activity so fast aloft the windshield it seems they ability fly off the car. Aback Avenue 49 aback appears, James veers carefully bottomward the access and pulls the car over in the grass of an intersection.
“The almanac won’t appearance anything, Alice, because there is no record. It’s aloof us. I’m abashed about accepting ashore out here. That’s all this day has been about. I’m aggravating to get us about so that we can get a allowance and afresh we can anguish about aggregate abroad afterwards that. Could we maybe action later, aback we get home?”
“Oh, I’d like that.”
“I mean, I don’t actually feel well, and the angry is not helping.”
I attending at him. So abundant of our accord depends on him actuality alive. About all of it.
“Darling,” I say. “Let’s aloof go sit and eat and relax for a minute. We can still drive afterwards that. We aloof accept to get out of this rain for a minute. And, afterwards dinner, I’m driving. No arguments.”
We acquisition the restaurant and get a table abreast the fireplace, which turns out to be aloof a accumulator alcove for old chestnut pots. The aide is a boy. Not an infant, but not actually a man. About in that average gravy. “Are you all weathering the storm O.K.?” he asks us, grinning.
Can one say no? I wonder. No, acknowledge you, we are not. We accept bootless to acclimate it and now we are here, in your restaurant.
The aliment that comes out is not disgusting. Candied and hot and plentiful, clammy in all the appropriate places. It goes bottomward ambrosial heavily, though, and I feel the day starting to expire, allurement to end. James was right. The druggery of alley food. We eat in silence, alert to the rain. Both of us attending forlornly at the bar, cerebration that we shouldn’t, we mustn’t. On the added hand, we could artlessly canyon out bashed actuality and maybe they’d booty us to jail. There are beds in jail. Soap. New bodies to meet.
A television aloft the bar shows a woman in a cape actuality absolute off her feet. The blow charge be on a loop, or abroad she keeps accepting up, adage article atrocious into her microphone, and afresh falling aback bottomward again. I’d like to acquaint her to break down, aloof break bottomward and booty it, while the wind and the rain baste at her aerial back, but she gets up afresh and the wind seems to lift her. For a moment, as she assault alongside off the awning and surrenders herself to flight, her aspect is beautiful, actually graceful. If you were falling from a cliff, no amount what accessible you, you ability appetite to anticipate about earning some appearance credibility forth the way, axis your final coast into article beauteous to watch. On the TV, there is annihilation to apprentice about the storm, annihilation to know. The cardinal that scrolls aloft the basal of the awning is long, afterwards cease, maybe the longest distinct cardinal I’ve anytime seen. Does this cardinal call the storm? What are we to accomplish of it?
In the car, we anticipate it over. We are too far from a hotel—plus, the hotels aren’t answering their phones. The active is dangerous, if not impossible. It’s not actually alike active anymore; it’s like demography your car through one of those car washes. We are beat aloft belief. I suggest, as tentatively as I can, that it is not absurd to anticipate that we could beddy-bye in the car. Our seats recline, like accessible chairs, and if we begin about safe and quiet to esplanade we could ride this out until the morning, maybe alike beddy-bye well. Afresh we could drive all day and maybe get to about breadth they accept rooms. We’d be rested. The sun ability be up. The apple ability accept ended. But at atomic it would be tomorrow. Tomorrow seems like the abandoned affair that will break anything, ever. Forth comes tomorrow, with its knives, as addition or added said. That’s not the exact quote, I’m sure, but the basic of it complete true.
It seems as admitting James may accept accustomed up. “Is that what you appetite to do? Beddy-bye on the ancillary of the road? In the car?”
“What I appetite to do is to be abandoned in a hole, covered in dirt. But sleeping in the car is the abutting best affair appropriate now.”
“Yes, that is generally the additional best afterwards animate burial.”
It starts to complete nice to me, actually appealing. Like activity to the drive-in, but afterwards the movie. Like activity parking, which we charge accept done once, in addition life, afore our bodies took on baptize and started to sink, afore the blemish grew like cast in the backs of our mouths. “I don’t anticipate there’s annihilation amiss with sleeping in the car,” I say. “It’s activity to be added adequate than a motel, that’s for sure, not that there alike is an accessible motel, and additional we won’t accept to anguish about the avalanche of accrue that’s been actually sprayed from beastly appendages about every distinct cabin allowance in the country. Purportedly.”
James seems to anticipate about it. “When I break in a hotel,” he says, “I do my best to accrue on the walls. It’s a borough obligation. You accept to cull your weight.”
“That’s a lot of burden for a man.”
“Sometimes I’m not in the mood. I’m bad-humored and I’m tired.”
“That’s aback you accompany out the jar from home?” I ask.
He laughs. “It’s acceptable to accept it with me. Who’s activity to know, you know, if the artefact is older?”
“More mature, in some ways.”
“Must. Broadcast. Seed,” he says, like a robot, and afresh he mimes the casting of the jar, aqueous its abstract capacity out into space.
It’s not actually a blow breadth that we find. It’s a breathtaking turnout, and the view—of the black, bottomless abyss—is pristine. You can see all of it, every aphotic acre, and if we don’t see our own apparitional faces by the end of the night it’s because we’re not attractive adamantine enough. We esplanade a bit out of the way, beneath the branches of a behemothic tree, and aback we bound apprehend that we’ve aloof added our blow of death—because copse assume to seek bodies out in these kinds of situations—we move over to an accessible parking space, with annihilation aggressive aloft us.
“Fuck that tree,” I say. “Way to try to adumbrate your intentions.”
We put our seats all the way aback and James pulls out a bar of amber from the go bag. I appetite to rub it all over my face.
“Oh, my God. Oh, my God. You are a genius,” I say. “Certifiable.”
“I like to anticipate that I accept an elusive, about cabalistic array of intelligence.”
“What abroad is in there?” Now I’m excited.
James aeon abysmal into the bag, rummaging about with his hand. “That’s the end of it,” he says. “The blow is aloof sadness. Anguish and absolute life.”
This is my candied man. So awe-inspiring sometimes. So uncommon. And he steered us here, to safety, breadth we can eat our sweets and abandonment to the night and aggregate will be so goddam cool in the morning. Alike as the rain seems to be crushing the car, one adamantine bean at a time. Not the rain. Boris. Boris is accomplishing this to us, the motherfucker.
The seats are a little bit all-powerful aback you angle them all the way back. A little bit like aboriginal chic on an airplane, which we accomplished abandoned once, and by accident, because of a aberration by the sweethearts at the gate. It charcoal a array of criterion for abundance alfresco the home.
“I’m apologetic you don’t feel well,” I say. “Is it accompanying to . . .”
“I mean, is it accompanying to anything? I apperceive you went to the doctor.”
“I did go to the doctor.”
“It was actually interesting. Actually surprising. I begin out that he thinks I’m still alive.”
“He sounds like a acute man. I would like to accommodated him. Maybe agitate his hand.”
James is quiet, and I’m not constant I actually like it. I accept to his animation and it sounds all right. But afresh he coughs, and it’s such a aged cough, as if he about had the activity for it. I don’t like it.
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“But now?” I ask. “Are you still not activity so . . .”
James action softly. “Oh, now. I’d like to say that I’m accomplished now.”
“Well, don’t authority back, mister. Say that. Accomplish it so.” I booty his hand.
“I’m fine,” he whispers. “I feel wonderful. Bigger than I’ve acquainted in a continued time.”
His articulation is too anemic for me. The action has gone out of him.
“Well, don’t go and die on me tonight,” I say, and I affectionate of appetite to bite him.
“You apperceive that’s what everyone’s thinking, right? Anybody who’s watching this at home? That the brace who’ve been argument all day will alpha to get along, but it will be too late, and afresh the man will die. That’s such a archetypal plot.”
“Oh, is that what they’re thinking?”
“That’s what all the action sites say. That’s breadth the allowance are.”
“Does the woman anytime die?”
“In situations like this?”
“Are there any added kinds of situations?”
We achieve in, and I assumption we are maybe aggravating to abatement asleep, but I feel too vigilant. James’s duke is balmy in mine. It doesn’t feel like the duke of a man about to die. It is big and bendable and I cull it over to me, get it in abutting adjoin my chest.
“I can’t see you, James. What is the attending on your face? What are you thinking?”
“No one is watching this but you, Alice. You’re the abandoned one here. No one knows about us. Bodies can’t actually know.”
“Sweetheart, are you O.K.? Should I be calling someone?”
“I assumption I’m a little added annoyed than I anticipation I was.”
“You charge be. You’ve done all the driving. You got us out of there. You adored us.”
He charge anticipate I’m badinage with him. I ambition I knew how to say it better. How appear so abounding things can complete beggarly and nice at the aforementioned time?
“Could we lie together?” he asks.
I clamber over the seat, wrapping up adjoin him. “Yes, of course. Let me achieve in actuality with you for a bit. Why not?”
It feels acceptable to bundle him. Balmy and aloof right. James is thinner than I remember. I can feel his bones.
“Why don’t we do this added often?” I say, nuzzling adjoin him.
“Because we haven’t capital to?” James says. He’s afloat off. I can apprehend his articulation abound thin. I’m not accessible to sleep. Not accessible to be alone.
“Hey,” I say to him.
“Stay alive with me for a little bit.”
“Breast Cancer is acrimonious up speed. Landfall is accepted at twenty-one hundred hours.”
“Oh. Ha. Yeah. I about forgot about that. Boris. So weird. Boris.”
When James is bashful for a while I nudge him. “Your turn,” I say.
“O.K. It’s so adamantine to think.” His articulation trails off and I nudge him again. Afresh he says, “Maybe we’ve anticipation of the best ones already.”
“No, we haven’t, we haven’t. I swear. There are so abounding more.”
“O.K.,” he says. “But this one isn’t so great. Are you ready?”
I say that I am. I angular in close.
I clasp his hand. “There you go.”
“Balls is alarming at seventy-five afar per hour.”
“They constant is,” I say. “Hurricane Balls formed in this morning and bodies are abashed to leave their homes.”
James doesn’t laugh. I allegation to leave him alone. He needs his space.
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“Beloved,” James whispers, and it’s the aftermost affair I apprehend him say to me afore he avalanche asleep.
“Beloved is coming,” I say to no one, alert for his breath. “Close your windows. Go bottomward into the basement and don’t appear out until she’s gone.” ♦
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