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At first, the idler was a blessing. What a thrill it is to have a new topic. Together we’d bitch, theorize, and rail against the idler. What’s the point of sitting in a truck? Is he selling drugs? Global warming, hello? That’s bad for the engine, right? With a subject to re-unite us, we were snappy, buzzing, fun. Motherfucking idler. But tonight solidifies the truth. We’ve gotten to that inevitable point: the idling isn’t interesting. We no longer ask the rhetoricals. We don’t sing the word “idle” to the tune of pop hits. It’s been weeks since we’ve gotten on our knees at the front window to spy clues, watch the white exhaust slip through the frost. We don’t escape to bed together and hide from the sound under the covers, don’t wrestle ourselves into a kind of 69 until our hairy legs muff each other’s ears. We no longer fuck above the growl of the idle. The dog grumbles, impersonating the truck. My fiancé opens a book. It is winter. It is dry, but the engagement ring feels tight around my finger. I slice a tag, make a gash in the nape of an old hag’s neck. My phone battery hits 10%. I don’t care if it’s cliché to be homesick for the Pacific. I miss seeing people barefoot. I’d kiss—no, I’d lick—a rock outcropping at Gualala. I haven’t left our place much since my Pap died last winter. He’d lived in my father’s house for twelve years. At the funeral I promised Dad (an addicted, hippy widower) that we’d be back in Cali soon. I tucked his drunk-ass into bed that night, and we shook hands like a deal. “I want to leave,” I say, though I’m not sure my voice carries above the idle’s murmur. “Huh?” he says. “I thought every time you leave the house you get sick?” “That’s not what I—” but the idler does this thing where he must be juicing the gas. The sound of the idle surges in waves. The warm floor beneath me swells. I’d hold my breath for a month under ocean water. I would. I want to tell my fiancé this, but the idle, the idle is scream, and I can’t take it anymore, can’t hear myself think. So instead what I do is I put on my boots. I put on my biggest, darkest coat. ______

FICTION | 11


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