Things You Can't Escape
Cathy Paul

When you're walking by the edge of the highway, the heat rising in shimmering curtains, your past strapped on your back with all of its inconvenient memories, you believe you're walking toward something, something better, rather than away from things you can't escape. You've certainly looked better than this; maybe that's why car after car ignores your outstretched arm with thumb turned upward. In the next town with a hotel cheap enough, you'll shower, wash the stringiness from your hair, the dust kicked up from car tires that coats your slim tanned legs, and, if you're lucky, maybe there'll even be a bathtub where you can soak away miles walked and the few jumbled thoughts in your mind. In the next town maybe you'll find what you're looking for--you just know you'll know it when you see it.

Tires flip up gravel. You half-turn as you move away from the highway. The last thing you want to deal with is some persistent cowboy wanting just one thing, just like all of them. None of them cared about what you wanted or heard what you said. You glance over your shoulder and see the lanky figure emerge from the pickup truck that you always thought too confining for his long legs.

"Faith! Honey!"

Your shoulders drop. Your heartbeat quickens as the gilded door closes. With a final glance toward the white line diminishing into the horizon, you take the offered calloused hand and don't resist as he wraps his arms around you and presses your face into his hard chest. His scent, the mingling of sweat, heat, and dryer sheets, makes you ache for the familiar. You wait as he places an itchy wool throw over the gouges in the passenger seat, then slide in. As he turns the pickup around, you glance over your shoulder toward an empty road easing straight then stare into the sunset dead ahead.

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