She stood on the porch watching the summer sun come up over the mountain. She woke up earlier this morning so she could have just a few minutes to herself. Looking past the field, she could see a glimmer of sun bounce off the river. A new day.
Lost in her own thoughts she had been out there longer than she expected. She hurried upstairs stopping outside her mother’s room listening for any sound. She wondered if she would see her today or, if, like the last two days, she would stay in bed, covers pulled high over most of her head. She suspected her spell was still going strong. She walked past her room and into the boys room. Her two brothers still asleep. At 9 and 11 years old, she wished they could wake themselves.
“Tommy, Sam, get up.” She shakes them as she walks to the window and opens the curtains letting the sunlight help wake them. She never left enough time for this morning routine. “Get up. I have to go start breakfast. You have 10 min to shower and get downstairs.” She heard a faint grumble as she shut the door.
They came down at the same time fighting with each other as usual. The morning quiet disappeared as they grabbed at their breakfast.
“Where’s mom?” Sam asks, hopeful she’ll join them this morning.
“Don’t know,” Wendy tries hard to think of something else to talk about.
“Is she coming downstairs today?”
“Don’t know. Eat your breakfast. Hurry up. You’re going to be late.”
She packed them in the car, and dropped them off at the middle school. She should have headed to the high school, but instead drove to the diner where she has been working for almost a year now, since she turned 16. They needed the money. She’d get her GED someday.
She met Kyle at the diner. She was surprised when he paid attention to her. He finished high school a couple of years ago. She remembered him. Everyone did. The football star. Short dark hair and eyes to match. So when he asked her out, she felt like she hit the lottery. Six months later, she wondered if this is what love felt like.
Back home again, she made dinner bringing a plate to her mother. She helped her brothers with their homework and tucked them into bed. It was nine o’clock, and she was meeting Kyle down at the corner gas station. It was her idea to meet him there. Her mom wanted her home for the boys. But this was her time.
“You’re late,” she said. “ I wasn’t sure you were coming.”
“I’m here now. Get in,” he said barely looking her way.
She made a few other attempts at conversation but when he only nodded or gave a short grunt, she understood he wasn’t in the talking mood.
He pulled up in their usual spot. Down by the railroad track tucked enough off the road so no one would see his car. He opened the door for her. He laid a blanket down so they could lie under the stars.
She was talking about her day when he leaned over and kissed her. She liked to spend some time together first, but she didn’t want to make him mad. She missed how he used to hold her. Touch her hair. Look into her eyes. When they first dated, they would talk endlessly dreaming about tomorrow. The last couple of months were different. Lately, what she wanted was of little concern to him.
She felt his hands on her back as he lifted her shirt over her head. He pulled her towards him pressing himself into her. He smelled of beer and cigarettes. His rough hands down her pants made her disappear.
They are sitting together on the porch of their house. He is holding her hand telling her how beautiful she looks in the sunset. This is her favorite part of the day. His words gentle and kind.
The pain in her wrist brings her back for a moment. A rock presses into her shoulder. He has pinned her arms over her head. His breathing heavy in her ear. She is unable to move beneath him.
He gets up and rubs her shoulders. He tells her how much he misses her that day. He tells her she is the only thing in his life that matters. His hands feel warm and strong. She knows he loves her. She knows she is safe with him.
She feels his knee in her thigh as he separates her legs. His full weight on top of her now. It is hard for her to breathe. She is not ready yet, but knows she has no choice. She feels the familiar movement of his hips. She closes her eyes tight as he enters her.
He lifts her up and carries them into their bedroom. He looks deep into her eyes tells her he loves her. Tells her she is the best thing that has happened to him as they make love. His breathing soft in her ear. His groan…
There is only blackness. When she is back, she sees him standing next to her pulling on his pants. “I have to get you back,” he says as he tosses her shirt to her. She wipes the tear on her cheek before he can see it. He waits for her in the truck. They drive back in silence.
“I’ll see you tomorrow night. Same time,” he says as he drops her at the gas station. She leans over to kiss him goodnight but he is looking at something out his window. She walks home alone. She will be there tomorrow because this is all the love she knows. Because being with him let’s her be somewhere else even if only for awhile.
Someday, she thinks. Someday she’ll leave here forever. For now, they still need her.