Yoharie: What It Takes to Fly (part eight)
A Harbor City parking lot. Not the day to take a big, sighing breath. Oiliness in the immediate air; something uncertain, but like the barbeque grill when Dad opened the valve, coming from the highway. No, where am I?
Savannah saw a film reel out in imagination…you would keep asking people this. Get a thousand answers, edit the most fitting into a stream of consciousness, the age and sex of the speaker changing, the background changing.
Fast, flitting cuts. Tones like pipes clashing, transitioning…
Would UCLA admit her on the strength of it? You’d meet everyone you needed to meet, if you could just get in…
Her sister hadn’t thought of the bank’s friendly email confirmation. Rae had been dunking Oreos in the inglenook, happened to hear Kate mutter…
“Debit card, now what the hell?”
Dad just got out of Todwillow’s car. Because he had, Rae through the window crazily searching for a reason to have called this out.
“Oh, goddamn Todwillow… Jer is home? Why…”
For the needed few seconds, Kate had left her phone on the counter.
“Really,” Rae said, reporting this, “they need to end it.”
No, don’t, Savannah said…now, inside. Don’t divorce. Even Rae couldn’t be so cool…she wasn’t on top of everything.
What, what, what to do? How could Tavo be so lucky he had found a free little home… Free both ways, because under the highway nobody would fuck with you either…
At least. She supposed harassment for nothing was still the way of the world…and there were harassers and harassers, too. And then…
What if you were a sort of she-toad, a creature so ugly and insignificant no predatory eye would ever light on you? The only thing that mattered to Savannah was the work. The work existed in imagination, but why wouldn’t it be so much easier getting started, building cred, if you could be a useful object, just that…run errands, be counted on…
But otherwise be nothing. A toad in a hidey-hole who came and went, was not pretty to anyone, was allowed to be just a Mind, unfettered…could enjoy the whole of personal sovereignty…
The phone buzzed. Savannah, not to trouble Jeff, had been keeping it on vibrate. Their sister emergency code still worked. It buzzed; it stopped. She counted one-mississippi, two-mississippi… It buzzed again, stopped. Savannah counted beats and rang back.
“Too hot to handle, girl.”
“She’s confiscating my phone. I told her I left it at school. It’ll have to be like, oh, lookee there…I guess it was in my bag the whole time. You get me. I’m under house arrest, and she’s driving tomorrow. So that’s it. Get your plea ready.”
“You forget something? You need in?”
Going back as she’d come, Savannah had to pass Rick-Rack Rags. Jeff had emerged in some deliberate, sneaky way. She believed it. No noise, no puff of air. When had he done it, though…how much was he spying on her?
“No. I’m just off to check out. Bye.”
“Doesn’t sound good.” He was affable; he fell in at her side.
“It’s fine.” She gave him an extra-large shrug.
“So, you mean you’re gonna fly back home?”
“I don’t think so, yet.” Oh, get the hell off.
He didn’t. “You got money to eat?”
“Why don’t you come along with me and I’ll get you a burger?”
He made a sweep of the hand, which meant turn around and walk back to his car. She couldn’t get any read on Jeff. He was both nice and suspect. Pressure, this collapse of the plan, this burning out of all resources…
Some terror of what Kate would say…while she knew her mother didn’t hate her…
But terror, yes, a dismal, gut-churning fear…
Made Savannah ask herself, slumping into Jeff’s passenger seat, did it matter? Women got themselves into these things. You could have a bad boyfriend. It could be art. Maybe Jeff was even…not bad.
What It Takes to Fly
(2020, Stephanie Foster)