November snows early. She drives without thinking, knowing every turn in town, taking each road and corner by instinct, until she puts the truck in park in front of his silver trailer, at once distant and familiar. The ice is slick under her worn boot soles.
She doesn’t have to knock. He heard her pull up. He drags on a coat, dirt-darkened fluorescent orange. He stands precariously on the wooden steps and waits for an explanation. She watches him light a cigarette. She wants one, desperately, but he doesn’t offer.
“Brandon,” she says to him and he nods, barely. “It’s the second week of November.”
He looks at her blankly.
“I need money,” she says, “You know that.”
His face is hard, his eyes green like the needles of the Douglas Firs behind him. The impulse to feel his arms, strong from construction jobs in Dillon, around her, heaves itself into her heart. She wants to feel his breath, warm and sweet against her hair. Hear him say he’ll take care of it, don’t worry. Just as suddenly, she is overcome with the urge to hurt him, to reach up and break him somehow until he cries out in pain and fury, and she has her life back. But she looks at her slim wrists, pale, the blue veins coursing underneath, and then she looks at him, always so big. Powerlessness rinses away the desire. In his shallowness and his shame, he’s still bigger, stronger, better. He kept his job. The trailer. Friends. He kept everything but her and his son.
“You owe me four hundred dollars.” Her voice cracks, like a frozen pine bough splitting on a winter night. Sudden anger, hot and heavy, spills from her eyes. She wishes she could erase her brain with all the ugly truths about the world and for just one day, enjoy something without guilt. Without stress. Without money, or love, or deep and burning hatred of everything that’s made her who she is.
“Don’t cry,” he says to her, disgusted. “Jesus fucking Christ, don’t fucking cry.”
But she can’t help it. How did they get here? She wants to scream at the trees and the empty gray sky. The answers are all too clear .