Yoharie: Because Society (part five)
Why, he meant. What are you really saying?
“Trevor, I think people should not get married.” She found her hands doing Power Point gestures. “I can’t fix this until I hear how it comes out, so hang in. What it is, is… I don’t want you thinking you need to propose to me, because… And us getting… I use the word weird a lot, don’t I?”
“Weird with each other.”
“I think we love each other? We’ve got that far. But, I mean, we can live together and not mess it up. We can have fun like we’re having today.”
Trying to joke, when he was the only one good at it. For this he took pity on her.
“Listen, I love you, but you’re kind of a miracle to me, so all the time there’re these ten thousand ways I could mess this up. I don’t care about being married married. Like, I would not take it as some hold I had over you.”
The remark sat, for a minute, by itself. Because “good”, or “absolutely”, or “of course not”, were wrong answers.
She said: “I feel like I just proposed…something. Congratulations, me.”
They stopped while a white bird big as a turkey landed, its flight a thing they’d missed. The mix of brushy stuff was camouflaging water, the wetlands angle suddenly making sense.
“It’s an egret,” Trevor said.
“Oh. So, not rare?”
“I guess for wetlands, no. I see egrets in Florida.”
They took pictures. “Why,” she asked, “do you see egrets in Florida?”
“That’s right.” Said in a face-palming way. “You told me about your mother. I should tell you about mine. We could drive down, have a road trip. That wouldn’t be the worst part.”
“I like driving. At least, I like bad food and souvenir stores. You mother lives where?”
“Sort of Crawfordville. Which is kind of near the Apalachicola forest. It’s a mobile home, and Grandma lives there too.”
“Near the Everglades?”
“No. Ages from the Everglades. And when we visit we don’t really want to go anyplace. Mom and Grandma and anything except, what you said, eating and shopping…at the malls you can get to in an hour…are like one of those deadly convergences.”
“Is it nice in the winter? Around Christmas?”
“I don’t know. I’m not a Christmas person.”
“I mean for things to do.”
“Actually, just where Mom lives, they’ve got a couple of those truly insane light guys. Inflatable shit on the front lawn…”
“My Dad has an uncle someplace in Florida.” She interrupted. But, what if…? What if…? Was it too much for Dad, if they drove the van?
“So, are you serious? Do Christmas this year?”
Jesus, a road trip. She couldn’t picture a map, but Texas seemed ages away too. But—
Dad, and Grandpa and Grandma. And Trevor’s grandma, and…Uncle Nick, was it? All the people who were going to die. Giarma Yoharie does a good deed.
Fate laughs. “Anyway, we have six months to think about it.”
“Come on, lunch.”
When they’d patted and repacked and scanned the dirt around their feet, they lifted heads to see a car on the bridge. Their steps faltered, but Trevor first, then Giarma in accord, made the duck-and-stride motion of one who decides to keep walking. In her mind—no clue what was in his—someone fishing, or taking pictures of egrets himself, would be a damper…untenable…
They meant only going down by the water to have their little picnic. But maybe it was against some law. You couldn’t talk when someone was standing above you, hearing. Even to eat might feel unsociable…
(“Hey, you, up there! Chicken leg? Potato chip?”)
“Kind of looks like the park ends at this road,” Trevor said.
“Well…call it exercise. That was the whole point. We’ll turn around.”
The man gave a toot-toot on his horn. He wore a sort of grin under his sunglasses.
And as they reached the galvanized back of a sign, that must on its face tout Alison’s flowers, the car began to glide, meeting them in its fashion, blocking the exit from the path. The move held threat, with no reason it should. A Todwillow thing. Todwillow, not believably there, but there, leaned, and his passenger window glided also. He kept the motor on, the steering wheel gripped with his left hand.
“Remote kind of place. Not much traffic.”
“I guess,” Giarma said.
He looked, with a leer, at Trevor. “So listen. Since I’ve got you here, you know what’s going on in the neighborhood?”
“You’re not a good friend of the Hibblers.”
“I’m not any kind of friend of the Hibblers.”
Todwillow was silent, so Trevor said, “What’s wrong with the Hibblers?”
“You’re not friends, okay. You don’t even talk to them?”
“I don’t know… I saw Jer going after Val. I think we said a couple things back and forth that day.”
Todwillow looked at Giarma. His twin mirrors did. “What’s wrong,” she said, “with the Hibblers?”
(2020, Stephanie Foster)