The Great Wide Open
My mom and Nancy idled around the loop in Tippecanoe State Park.
“We don’t have to tell him,” mom repeated.
Nancy kept clicking her nails on the polished wood steering wheel. Outside on the hot asphalt the tires squelched along. A porcupine nibbled on some bark.
Nancy stopped with her nails and instead swished the insides of her fingers along the top of the steering wheel. “Do you think,” she said, and paused – swish-swish. “Do you think we could just take off?”
Nancy is mom’s lover. I wonder if she wants to ‘just take off.’
Mom shrugged. Her elbow is on the arm rest. Two fingers behind her ear prop her head up, and she bats her eyes at Nancy. “Why not?”
Nancy laughed. I want to protest. But I have no voice.
“I don’t know,” Nancy said. “What about his rights?”
“Pay him, we buy the rights.”
I could kick her. But I have no legs, and mom is already hurt. I can feel it like ink in my blood.
Nancy tittered. “That wasn’t the deal.”
There’s a rest area on the loop, just a small gravel pull-off with two port-a-potties. The tires popped on the gravel. Nancy put the car in park. She took mom’s hand in both of hers; her blue eyes pierced. “What’s going on?”
Again mom shrugged, hiding. She sat up in the seat and looked out the windshield instead of at Nancy. “What? Nothing’s ’going on’. But … you really want him to be a part of us?”
“That can’t be avoided, can it?”
“I’m saying it can,” mom said. “That’s what I’m saying: don’t tell him, let’s just go; we got what we needed.”
“A part of him is always going to be a part of us,” Nancy said, and I know that is me; I’m the part of him that will always be a part of them.
“No,” mom said, “the baby will be ours. If we go, if we break contact, the baby will be ours; not his.”
Nancy sat back and folded her hands in her lap. “Chelle, we can’t really do that; we promised him.”
“We did what we had to do. That’s all.”
Nancy turned to drive. The tires spun in the gravel. She pulled back on the park road, driving it like a highway. The trees are rushing past now.
“He’s not going to care,” mom said.
“Of course he’s going to care. He wanted this as much as we did.”
“Oh, it was a roll in the sack to him.”
“Is that what this is about? The sex? You agreed to it.”
“It brought it all back, Nancy.”
“Jesus.” Nancy pressed the brakes so hard that mom was pushed forward and had to hold herself with both hands on the dash. “What?”
“It brought it all back.”
“But you told me it was okay.”
“Well, it wasn’t. And I just know that every time I see him, even if it’s just holidays, once a year, whatever: it’s going to be a reminder. Every time I’m going to have to remember … every single thing that they did to me. I don’t want that shit to be a part of my life.”
“So the baby can have no father.”
“Would that be so bad? Nancy, would you have missed your father?”
“Anderson isn’t our fathers.”
“He’s more like them than you think. I should know.”
“No. I don’t believe you,” Nancy said, and she pushed the gas so fast the car peeled out, and it threw mom back against the seat.
Right then, I feel my mom decide to abort me. But I am no longer riding in the car. I’m lifting, out of her, through the green canopy into blue. I see the park, the small town, the web of highways. I see the continent full of people.
The earth shining in darkness.
Base photo from Pixabay, by Pexels. Edited by myself in Canva Pro.