“So. We’re driving away from the cabin in the woods. Away from all the trees and green and birdsong. Where I thought I’d get some writing done.”
Beside me, she lifts one shoulder and looks apologetic. She always looks apologetic. For everything. Even when it’s not her fault.
“And we’re going to a day spa. A resort.”
Another big-eyed, silent half-shrug.
“I am not dressed for a spa.”
This time, she lifts both shoulders in a full shrug — noncommittal, nonjudgmental.
“They get all the seats, and we have to sit all the way back here.”
To illustrate our shared discomfort, the station wagon hits a tooth-rattling bump – my head strikes the ceiling’s inner shell. The wagon’s available seats are occupied by white-haired women in pastel sweat suits.
“And, on top of this…”
This is the point I’ve been working toward throughout my monologue; the point I’ve been trying to wrap my head around through the act of speaking; hoping that somehow, stringing words together in sentences that describe the concrete facts surrounding me, I might be able to make sense of what she’s said, accept her statement as truth.
“On top of all this, you’re telling me that we have different fathers? The man I thought was my father all these years was not? My father died before I could remember him?”
She bites her lower lip, nods silently.
With a sudden violence, a vision plays out before my mind’s eye — a man clutching his abdomen, seeking to contain the blood that seeps through his fingers. A look of shock on his face, of surprise in his eyes behind charcoal-rimmed glasses.
The station wagon hits another bump. My vision clears; incredulity remains.
She — still beside me, rattling along in the seatless, way-back of the wagon — wears, now, a look of pity. Softly, she pats my hand.