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Like Raspberries with Milk in the Summer MAG
The can was cold under her fingers. They were pressed up against it by his hand, entwining with hers. She drove the car easily with one hand; it was a trick best learned through practice, and he liked it, so she practiced. Occasionally she pulled her hand out of his to steer around turns or through intersections, and he would frown, but she just kept staring ahead. The road was illuminated by her headlights and the moon shone over the hills. The night sky was not black, only a very full blue, a canvas for the silhouettes of the tall pines they passed. Snow banked the sides of the roads, mixed with pieces of dead grass and dirt. The little lights on the dashboard blinked red and green, casting a ghastly glow on her hand as she raised it to steer around a curve. He frowned and turned to look out the window. After a moment he took a sip of his soda and sighed.
“Coke is my favorite kind of soda,” he said, turning to her. “What do you like best?”
She had been about to put her hand back down, but when she opened her mouth to answer his question, she shut it again abruptly, and startled, she dropped her hand to her lap and looked perplexedly at the road ahead, as if it was some kind of giant maze and she could not discover how to get out. After a few minutes of silence, he looked out the window again and she raised her hand to grip the steering wheel tightly. She tipped her head to one side and smiled slightly.
“You want to know what I like best?’’ she asked. “Well, then I’ll tell you.” He looked over at her and started smiling, then chuckling to himself, he reached for her hand. The headlights caught a sign on the side of the road, and grinning almost maliciously, she flicked on her blinker and slammed on the brakes. He jerked his hand back as the car flew around a corner.
“Where are you going?’ he asked. The skin on her knuckles was white. “Stick to the main roads. You’ll never make it back home before nine.”
“I’ll go fast,” she said as the car sped along. Pieces of newspaper scattered from the road. The moonlight shone directly on her face now and she looked thoughtful for a moment, then very intent as she stared at the road ahead.
“What I like best is at the end of the day when I’m tired and thoughts stream meaninglessly through my head. I’m all ready for bed and I go in my dark room and close the door. One of the best things in the world is closing the door on a darkened room. I like the way my long white nightgown flows over my body. I like how it touches me only in a few places. I like to raise my arms above my head and sway and dance rhythmically in the dark, like I’m dancing to slow African drums. I like to collapse on my bed and look out the window. I like to see the stars, the moon’s tears, and they taste like raspberries with milk in the summer. I love to see the moon cry. I love the taste of solitude. I like the dark, and I like myself.”
They drove the rest of the way in silence, both staring ahead. They passed a little house with the lights on, and inside she saw a little girl playing the piano and a man giving a little boy a piggy-back ride.
“I never liked soda very much anyway,” she said. “I’ve always preferred a warm cup of tea.” A lone tear fell from her eye and rolled down her cheek and under her shirt. He said nothing. When they pulled into his driveway, she threw the car into park.
“Well, I’d better be going,” he said, “I do love you.” He leaned over and kissed her gently on the cheek, seeming not to notice the dampness.
“Yeah, well, that happens sometimes,” she said.
“Goodnight,” he said, getting out of the car.
“Bye,” she said. He shut the door and she put the car in reverse. She watched his back as he walked up to his house. A dog barked. As she turned to check the road, a stray curl fell in her face and she brushed it away absent-mindedly. The car sped on down the road and she was alone. The moon and its tears shone brightly over the hills and her headlights illuminated the road ahead.