48.2

Page 13

From our driveway, the sheer size of the country seems to rise up and flash me. Hulking, huge, it lays bare its breast, as if taunting: Stab here. Hit heart and anywhere blood runs, you can go. This is what we fight about, because now he might stay on for a teaching certificate, might adjunct here next fall. He’s not sure, doesn’t want to talk about summer. He only wants to talk about now. This very moment. As if now is enough. I want answers; he wants us to meditate. There’s nothing exactly wrong with this place: it’s our building, and behind that is a shuttered Dairy Queen and a beaming gas station called Kwik Stuff. Pierre has 11,000 people but feels like four. The air is brittle. I step through snow littered with dogshit and cig-butts, to the idler. With my ungloved knuckle I tap the frozen window. The truck’s engine surges, but the wheels don’t spin. I breathe into my red, raw hands and wait. Okay, so he can idle. And I can play chicken. I’ll stand here until the tank’s out of gas. I’ll drink snow, live off grass. In the distance, I hear a voice crackle through a speaker. A streetlight dies, flickers, holds. I knock again, and the window slides down at a crawl. I can see someone with long blond hair leaning across the cab toward me. She’s cranking the window down, manually. Woman is her hands. “Help you?” she says, the window now half-mast. It’s dark inside the cab—a glowing green stereo the only light. Faintly, I hear a pop song about the answer to all questions being No. “You’re idling out here,” I say. “You’re observant out here,” she says. It’s unnerving that I can’t make out her face. Mine I’ll bet shines in the street light beside me. I wonder what that picture looks like. “I live here,” I say. “And the idle, you know, we can hear it clearly.” “A warm noise,” she says. “Don’t it sound like a soup on boil?”

12| PHOEBE 48.2


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