I decided to take Zoe to Ikea to escape my aunt’s dinner party. Luna was horrified as I ducked out explaining we would be back at 11 pm because it is a long drive on the interstate. I didn’t want to see her grad student again but I didn’t feel like saying that. I don’t get annoyed often but I came to stay with her so I could clear my head to be a good wife, then she repeatedly invites over this guy who stares at me. I just find that to be exceedingly distasteful and frustrating. Maybe I’m imagining things. Maybe she invited him over again so soon because she adores his contributions to her parties. Maybe she didn’t notice how he was to me. But I’m am distrustful of her intentions. She is one of the few people on this planet who doesn’t adore Chris and she always thought I should have ended up with a scholar instead of well, him. I get the feeling like she thinks this “separation” is her big chance to change my future.
It was raining when i got onto the interstate. I was listening to Sparkle Horse, thinking about how sad it is that the singer shot himself, then about Elliot Smith. Then the car in front of me suddenly lost control. I started to brake slowly to put distance between us. They were skidding from side to side. I kept slowing down, down and just when it looked like they were gaining back a little control, the car started spinning and slammed into the concrete dividing wall…the entire front of the car exploding into the air in pieces. The debris was sailing in front of me then hit the ground as I rolled over it. I pulled over next to the wreckage and jumped out and ran to help, terrified that I would find what someone had found when they went to help my sister a year ago. But when I opened the rear door, a man and a woman were sitting up front dazed and unscathed. There was a little boy in the back seat, also unscathed, and a hamster next to him, drinking from its water-bottle stuck on the side of the cage. I stared at it. Other people came up. I let them take over. Sirens almost immediately filled the air and I made my way back to Zoe.
I turned off the interstate and took the back roads back to the beach. I was relieved to pull up in front of my aunts house. But there were a bunch of cars there. This was going to be awkward. I thought I would go and take an Ativan then maybe I could handle it. Zoe and I walked in to a living room full of people.
Luna looked at me in surprise then annoyance. “I thought you went to Ikea”.
“I started to”, I said to her guests who were probably shocked I had a voice after my silence at the last dinner party. “But there was an accident in front of me so I felt like coming home.” The tears starting pouring down my face and I watched everyone’s expression turn to instant sorrow. I turned and walked Zoe to her bedroom and I expected to turn and see my aunt, but there was “Grad Student” the very person I had gone on this awful trip to avoid.
“Was everyone ok?”
“No”, I said. I don’t know if I lied to spite him or because I was embarrassed that I was crying over an accident where nobody was hurt.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
I tucked Zoe in and looked at him incredulously. “Not here!” I kissed her and she lay there with her big brown eyes wide open. Then she rolled over, so we walked out if her room and I turned off her light and shut her door.
“Are you OK?” he said. And I totally lost it.
“Who the fuck are you? Do I know you? Are we friends?”
“I’m just trying to help” he said, looking utterly horrified.
“Well stop trying!”I brushed past him to my room and shut my door. Then I fell on my bed and buried my face in my big, soft, white pillow. It felt good to yell at someone like that and I found myself laughing when I saw his expression again in my mind. But then I suddenly felt bad. He was probably a nice guy, and Luna was gonna kill me.