Takin’ it easy

Posted: April 13, 2014 in Short stories, starts & writing, Takin' it easy

Takin it easy
Humming past fields of forever, yellow stubble and distant stands of tamarack and spruce, under an impossible sky, slumping hay-bales marking invisible grids across the prairie rise and fall. Mighty Sol stabs crepuscular blades of light through waves of muddy stratocumulus, through an insect-pocked and road-grimed windshield, and the yellow lines down the middle of the grey asphalt conveyor-belt slide away beneath them, a ribbon of morse-code nonsense across the countryside.
“Anytime at all, if you want to.”

Jill sat in the passenger seat hugging her left shin and resting her chin on her knee, watching the passing scenery. “If you want to,” she added. “I’ll understand.”
The sun glaring in at them from the end of the road, the edge of the world, made Bren’s face look yellow, his eyes opaque and orange, everything the colour of Autumn. Fuzzed out shake-a-shake, shoe-gaze pop on the car stereo. Yo La Tengo. Tinny but lacking treble, the cracked and scratchy old “come-as-standard” door-mounted speakers rattle ever so slightly when pressed to emit sounds of a certain pitch and frequency.

“I’m happy to drive further. Into the sun,” he said. But she could tell just by looking that he wasn’t happy. He had been this way for days. She thought this drive, to finally have a destination, would be enough. Personally, she had been thrilled about the prospect of this road trip. This wasn’t just driving for the sake of getting away, finding somewhere new. This was a home-coming of sorts and she always looked forward to seeing family, no matter the circumstances.
Bren on the other hand hadn’t been as enthusiastic. Not openly against the idea, just noncommittal. Jill had tried to appeal to his apathetic nature, that sense of “whatever”, suggesting he just go with the flow, give it some time. “And I believe that sometimes if you wait just a little bit you’ll find that everything’s just fine,” she had said as she tossed clothes for the trip on to the bed. “’Cause we’ll be takin’ it easy.” Bren had just sat watching television, expressionless. Was he even listening? Would she have even noticed if he wasn’t? “We got all the time to kill,” she had said as she shut the wardrobe. “And that’s all fine.”

Out on the road, it was clear Bren thought it was all far from fine. Money, or a lack there of, played heavily on him. He craved stability, financial security, a place for them to settle into, what they once had. He couldn’t see any way they would ever realise it again. “I don’t know if we’ll ever find our way back home,” he sighed. He swallowed, checked his mirrors before continuing. “It’s been so long and… I don’t know if I feel like drivin’.”

Later, leaning on the car, sipping styrofoam-cup coffee in a windy truck-stop parking lot, Jill was more pragmatic, claimed she was happy whether they had money or not. Home was where you chose to make it. If home was an ever-moving place, then so be it. “Everybody worries about it but I don’t give a damn. Push on through is all you got to do.”
Crunching gravel underfoot, he put their empty cups in the trash. Jill watched him return, reached her arms out to him and said, “Hey.” He forced a smile and held her by the waist, looking into her rosy-cheeked face. “Takin’ it easy?” “We got all the time to kill,” she replied, nodding. “And that’s all fine.”

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