First, there was a dream of the Salton Sea, its fishy shores and trailer parks. I learned of Slab City in ruins, a settlement for artists and junkies.
The headlights were too low to be Ryder’s aging Silverado. I did not have other family left, or many friends in town, and none would have visited at this hour.
I was stoned the summer after high school. We went to Taco Bell every day. I’d been in the system since junior high.
Later, the girls stand in front of the open refrigerator, slightly feral: slices of cheese torn from plastic, pickles from the jar, a swig of Hershey’s syrup, jelly scooped out with a finger.
At that point, we expected locked doors, staff with keys, and intricate systems of levels and points that determined our value, our movements, our freedoms.
The Onion Van was parked adjacent to a road leading deep into the forest, quite possibly the very primrose path that carries people to places miles from where anyone can hear them scream.
“Hello,” the very small girl whispered to the pup as she settled into her seat. “My name is Tillie. Your name is Levi, and you are mine.”
I couldn’t drop this in Sawyer’s lap. He couldn’t know there was any more trouble than driving into town when the well ran dry.
That summer, the brilliant bursts of muzzle flash replaced the on off, on off, on off of fireflies. With our fingers in our ears, it was beautiful in the dark.
I spent a few moments gauging everyday items that were wider than this walkway; my dog, my laptop, a submarine sandwich placed sideways, a yoga mat, most table games except for Uno, and me.
The boy held two fingers sideways, squinting toward the horizon. “Thirty minutes,” he silently mouthed to himself, dropping his hand.
what’s your name
where are you going
do you need a ride