Yoharie: What It Takes to Fly (part four)
So, of all possible things for a birthday treat, big greasy grilled burgers, raspberry coffees topped with mounds of whipped cream, she craved gas station food. Not per se…a grocery fine, and if she found one sooner, she’d grab her list. Danish, the kind sold in packets by themselves, probably because—analyzing danish for the first time—the plastic sealed in all that transfatty softness. And Doritos. And bubble gum to get rid of the Doritos taste. And then, a two-liter Dr. Pepper. And then, ramen…maybe. She thought in the coffee maker she could do ramen.
She closed the door, clutching at the keycard, shouldering her knapsack. She felt homeless the minute she left the parking lot, reached a little stump of sidewalk, a busy, busy street. Wide, and no center island. Someone else walking, a woman in a billed hat with Lakers on it, peering up into her face and trucking on.
“Thanks, I don’t need help,” Savannah said, inside.
She hoped they didn’t bust you for loitering right off, because this was a minor crisis. How many places she’d gone in her life, cruising in a daydream in the back of Mom and Dad’s car…
Alrighty, how do you tell where you are, so you can find your way again?
Do I even know what room? Did I pay enough attention?
She wanted to call Rae, as though talking to her sister would make her look normal. As though Rae’s gift, of being born fearless and wily as fuck, would solve this problem too. Down at the end of sight, at a corner near an overpass, sat what looked to Savannah like her goal. Some fencing visible, sidewalk going the full distance uncertain. Could you even cross diagonal, four directions of endless traffic edging and revving? Could you starve to death in L.A. without a car?
So…hi! So, I’m still talking to Sam? Great. Oh, no problem. What do I need to give you besides the account number? Should I write a little note and have her bring it? Who’s this now? Kevin…Kev! So, my daughter’s looking at colleges. No, seriously, Savannah. (Laughter.) We have liftoff. (More laughter.) Right. A debit card. Absolutely no refills. Yeah, and Kev, listen—
I really don’t have to come down there myself, do I? I mean, if you could fax me something? Maybe… Oh, great! No…heck, never. So, Savannah will pick up the card…I’ll sign her a note, just in case…”
And cheery goodbyes.
“Now scramble! I’ll pick up if they call back for some reason.”
Rae gave her two signs, the first a backhanded wave, the second explicit. Savannah jogged off, walked a little, jogged more, the motions of an idiot conspirator, unworthy of her sister’s tacticianing, making for their mother’s bank.
“Oh. My. God. We did it!” She’d hissed this out, shutting Kate’s office door, looking every way about her. “Rae! You sound so much like Mom!”
Rae rolled her eyes. “So while you were gone, I called Grandma. Basically, I have her statement that the money is to ‘get started’. Quote. I said, you mean for college…even if one of us decides we’re not going?”
“One of us? Use my name if you want.”
Lawyerly negative indication. “We’re establishing a principle. And she said, no, it’s just there for each of you. Quote. She had those CDs, remember, when they matured she opened our accounts… So!” Brisk, summing up. “That’s our position if we need to mount a defense. Mom always says college money, but Grandma never made it that specific. I’ve got her on record.”
“And so why…”
Here was a black shirt, henley, an L. L. Bean, men’s large. Waffle-weave, 100% cotton. It was raggy, worn, one cuff departing its sleeve both ends, fraying up and ripping down. Paint, where the owner must have sat in it, a grey wash at the back hem…
There was nothing about this shirt Savannah didn’t like, including the bigness.
“Why they donate shit?”
“Why, if I’m supposed to throw it in the bin, couldn’t I take it?”
Her workmate shrugged.
She had put aside a pair of jeans, in case it turned out not wrong, Jeff when asked not minding. Cottons recyclable, synthetics for the landfill. Jeans and denims in a bin of their own, torn not making them unsaleable. Stinky and stained, no zipper…the workers were to judge. Hers, low-waisted, no tags, probably men’s, had a brown stain down one leg. Well, rusty. Of bodily fluids, more like blood than the insupportable. Lots of holes, so hard to say bullet. And whether that was cool…new thought…
But to Savannah it seemed, a little.
Both finds ASAP to the laundromat, sure, but…they were junk.
They were trash. Stuffed, maybe post-crime, the jeans…in a dropbox. “Good question.”
“What’d I say?”
She sat back on her heels, struck by it. Because if the worst shreddy things were viable, but on the other hand, you wouldn’t pay for them…but on the third, you might…maybe a quarter…
On her first morning recon she’d passed Clothes! Clothes! Clothes! Vintage! Kids! Formal! Athletic!
Two front window-plates, and these words, on plasticky banners. Tired of walking, dry-throated, she settled her weight on both feet…eye caught by a banner ripping itself from its moorings. A human shape in dim light. This she saw load a rag from a tin can, rub white stuff all over the window, blanking its presence back out. Then, lingering like the Cheshire cat’s smile, having left a corner untouched, the hand popped in a cardboard sign, hot pink, to fill it.
What It Takes to Fly
(2020, Stephanie Foster)