You know the drill. Tonight’s prompt: Write about stealing time. And yes, it’s the character from last week. Because I can.
“What took you so long to respond?”
My fingers hover over the numbers on my cell phone. It’s awful. It’s so old that I still have to hit a number 2-3 times to get the letter I need. I have to be slow and deliberate with each sentence I write. “You know I’m not around until around six or so.” This time of year, anyway.
“Yeah, that’s right, you have that awful job, or whatever.”
I nibble on my lip a bit and look around. I know she’s in Canada but I feel like she’ll be able to tell I’m lying. That I’m always, always, always lying to her. “Haha. Yup. But it pays the bills so there’s that.”
“What are you up to for the rest of the night?”
I get comfortable in my seat on the bus. I just barely made it in time to board. I’m going to ride to the middle of nowhere, get out, find somewhere else to go and get checked in before dawn. If I have to find another ditch or, worse, dig a hole to get into, I’m going to lose my mind. “Just hanging out. Maybe watch some House re-runs.”
“I love that show. I can’t believe it ended.”
“It was about time.” Somebody boards with a dog in a little carrier. It looks at me and goes ballistic. The old woman shushes it and looks at me like I must have made it freak out, like it’s my fault. I drop my eyebrows and give her a nasty glare. It’s only when she disappears to the back that the piercing yips fade out, like the last dots of an ellipses.
“Want to watch it together?”
My throat tightens. I straighten up in my seat, feel very conscious of the fact that I was not expecting this. I try to relax. “Aw, baby. You and I don’t have the same channels. US, remember?”
“Oh yeah. I forget sometimes.”
If I had a pulse, it would be drumming. I let the brief panic pass. “I wish I was there.” It’s true. I do. But I think about what it would be like, all the explaining, all the words and restrictions. I try to imagine what I would be like, if it were the other way around. Having this strange girl who you knew once show up at your door, and she’s at once everything you knew about her and yet nothing at all.
“Me too. I wish you could come visit.”
I consider the logistics of getting a passport. Could you do that at night? Could I just do it online? I could still use my name, right? Maybe, but nothing else. I think about walking up the river from New York to Canada. Taking paths through the wilderness. But where could I bed down during the day? I don’t like the idea of ground so cold you can’t dig through it. I’m uncomfortable now. I try not to let that show. “Maybe sometime. When I have the money.”
“I could send you some.”
“Honey, I don’t want your money.”
“If it meant I could have you here with me, I would pay anything.”
I feel guilty. I feel deceitful. I feel…I feel…I feel…
I stare at the phone for too long. It buzzes again. “I love you.”
“I love you too.”
What does that even mean, now?
As the bus pulls away, I’m grateful for poor reception, for shorter texts and longer waits. I hope she’ll get over me. I hope she doesn’t think about it too much, because all I have is time to think and it’s no good.