The first half hour of waiting was never as maddening as the last. They sat in the shadow of the water tower and blew cigarette smoke out the crack they left in the truck’s windows. She curled her bare feet on the dash and he stared at them. They both enjoyed the waiting, the cruelty of time in that hour, how it seized their wants and made them wider. He didn’t much care for the taste that the cigarettes left in her mouth, but the rest was clear water and strawberry twizzlers.
“Let the wickedness wash over you,” she whispered and straddled him then. They went at it the way motors cranked over, the cross dangling from her neck making cold shapes against his cheek that he couldn’t turn away from in the small space of the cab. Let’s take it easy, they said to each other, wait till we get inside. He whispered the word in her ear as they moved: inside, inside, inside. Then she bucked and her head clanged the cab’s metal roof.
In those moments where separation swelled between them, she thought of dinner, the silver laughter of forks, round plates with potatoes and quivering, bloody meat. Her father would intone a prayer, his eyes small in his wide face. Deliver us from our sin, he’d say, deliver us from our wicked ways. Her face would warp in the bowl of a spoon during the prayer. The meat was red and sweated on the plate.
He liked the way she behaved in the house after his grandmother left, the noises that she made. They would leave the blinds open so the sun could slant in across their naked bodies. He enjoyed the slow revealing of that other girl inside her, the one only he knew, how her under parts arrived white and goose-pimpled. He didn’t know why, but her hands were wrinkled and creased as if they’d been burned or were yet unformed in their becoming.
Their favorite thing was to stand bare in the kitchen. He’d nestle behind her, his hardness clasped in her rear’s cheeks, his hands holding up the weight of each breast, raising first one, then the other like puppets. A bay window at the front of the kitchen opened to the wide day. Light flooded in and warmed the spots of their bodies not touching. There was always a moment before things turned frantic and huffing, a still moment that sifted onto them. It was a moment the boy was certain his parents never had experienced. How could they? They touched like the wrong end of magnets. But things were different with her. There was a certainty in the way her body fell into his, a natural melding, a fate. They would age in this closeness by the minute. They aged into their bodies the way a peach ripens within its skin. A pink blush splattered her belly whenever she came and from between her legs a great gush squirted till the sheets dampened, his hands full of the unholdable liquid, his face salty with the slick. At first, she was ashamed and would cover herself with her hands and squeeze her knees together to slow the jerking flow, but soon she came to enjoy his attention and now spread her thighs wide for the release, gripping his hair to hold his head to it so that he would drink, revealing all that she was and would be till they molted apart and he fell back with a wet and amazed face, watching her belly and its pink heaving.
She leaned forward and rasped a cigarette from the pack on the dash. Tobacco sizzled in the orange eruption of the Zippo. She leaned back, her head on the passenger door armrest, legs slightly apart. White panties with a wet spot. He stared and blew smoke across her thigh, felt himself swell with eager blood.
She curled her toes against the rubber floor mats and squeezed her legs together. It’s not as if they were on fire as it’s often explained, more like they were the sort of forces that are compelled toward each other. They had discussed this before. Protons and electrons. But she didn’t care about that. Explanations and prayers did not matter. Reasons were for the old and the dead. What mattered was the here and now. She enjoyed how his scrotum moved even without being touched, as if it contained a life separate from his. She often thought it responded to her thoughts. It wasn’t so much that she wanted him inside her as that when he was she didn’t concern herself with escaping and thought little of those dinners, the silver laughter, and the lessons of red meat. A cock is a wonderful distraction, she told her friends, with a small flip of her wrist. It’s the best we have to hope for. She grabbed him in the truck and moved her fingers on him. Then she gave it a little kiss and said to him, “All mine. This will be mine forever. Especially if we have a baby.”
The things people say to each other. He rolled the window down a bit more and a scarf of smoke moused out the breeze. The water tower’s shadow bunched in the cab. He softened in her mouth. She moved up and sought his lips, but the cigarettes bothered him. Her wrinkled fingers cupped his chin. “What’s the matter?”
“A cramp in my thigh.” The window squeaked as he rolled it down all the way. “You have any gum?”
They both heard the other’s breath and felt blood grow old in their hearts. Grass stalks fluttered against the muffler. Though each felt different, the world persisted as if that difference didn’t matter. It was like the weight of all water was there and pressing on them, holding them back from becoming what they wanted to be. What people really are is revealed in sunlight and nakedness and they each looked for that in the other, but the shadow from the tower had filled the truck like a black balloon and they were becoming nothing but hands and tongues and everyday toes.
Seven minutes past ten and the boy’s grandmother still had not left. An hour beyond that and still her car had not moved. This had never happened. Never had they waited like this. He leaned his head back so that his hair darkly ovaled against the rear window and then he released his breath. He began to wonder what the rest of his life would be like from this moment forward. His concern was only for what might arrive, not that which had passed. His mother worked three jobs, wearing an orange dress, serving hamburgers. He thought of how her eyes had turned wet the last time her husband had touched her.
He looked at the girl who had fallen asleep and thought she could be replaced, that she was no different than any other. Then he closed his eyes and forgot about the virus of the past. All the past did was repeat. Noon approached. The cross around the girl’s neck glinted in the hollow of her throat and the sun crested the tower. Light broke around the truck. Light flowed and washed away his thoughts of what was to come and what had passed. His grandmother’s car was finally gone. The house was empty and full of breeze, willing as the moon to harbor that which they had to give. Their hurts would soon be healed, the breach closed. He woke her up and told her it was finally time. The news made her face a bright apple. He knew that what lay ahead was a privileged thing. This gave him a quiet pleasure and strength. He started the truck and they felt the combustion rattle their bones. As he drove out from behind the water tower, sunlight illuminated every inch of her body. She came out of the shadows into wonderful glory.