Wednesday, August 15, 2007


They camped that night in the ruins of an old motel on the outskirts of a tumbledown village so small it was unworthy of a name.

They unloaded their donkeys in what was left of the crumbled parking lot and tethered the animals in a field of Russian thistle and withered gramma grass. Even though an entire wing of the motel had been reduced to piles of brick and masonry, there were still enough intact rooms for everyone who wanted one. Will and Diana found scorpions and birds' nests in their room, but were more interested in the dusty pictures on the walls. "Here's what we need in this country," Diana said, examining a seascape. "Look at all that water! Where do you think it came from?"

"A flood, maybe?"

"Like Noah and the Ark?" Diana considered. "It looks even bigger than the lake we camped at last year. You think it's a real place?"

Will shrugged. "No telling. If I had paint and knew what to do with it, I suppose I could make a picture of anything, whether it was real or not."

Even more interesting was the bathroom mirror. Diana had avoided the few mirrors at the safe house, and Will hadn't seen his own reflection in years. "I'm taller than I thought," was all he had to say, but Diana examined herself with a critical eye, glad that even though her clothes were tighter, she at least didn't look pregnant yet. She rubbed a patch of grime on the glass, stepped back and frowned. She had put her hair up that morning, but now she took out the pins and let the heavy braid fall down her back. Still not satisfied, she began unbraiding her hair, loosening it until it was a thick chestnut sea around her shoulders.

"What are you doing?"

"Trying to make myself pretty."

"Who are you trying to impress?"

She ignored the edge in his voice. "If we're going spying. . ."

Will met her eyes in the mirror. "Don't go getting any ideas."

"You don't have to be jealous if I flirt on a spy mission."

"That's not what I mean, and you know it."

Diana looked away. "We don't even know Robert will be there."

"Of course he will. He's the new guy's right hand man."

"Well, I don't know why you're still so hung up on those couple of times I kissed him." She sat on the edge of the musty bed and tried to re-braid her hair. "I married you. That settles it."

She immediately wished she hadn't said anything because Will pulled her close and began kissing her, which soon led to fumbling with the buttons on her shirt. Annoyed, she pushed him away. "We can't get started with that. It's dinner time."

"Food will still be around later."

"And I'll be around later, too."

"But then you'll be too full from dinner, or one of us will have to go on watch, or you'll be sleepy."

"Don't be mad at me. You act like I tell you no all the time."

"I just wish you enjoyed it more."

Diana tried again to braid her hair. "It’s the baby’s fault,” she lied. “It squishes my insides all up.”

"I wish I could believe that’s all it is."

“What else could it be?”

“You tell me.”

Diana pulled the braid over her shoulder and wrapped the end with a leather cord. “That’s all it is,” she said, knowing he would never understand why making love to him felt like incest. “Haven’t we known each other forever? Don’t you believe me?”

“It’s because I’ve known you so long that I don’t believe you,” Will said, offering her his hand. “But come on. Let’s go see what’s for dinner.”

1 comment:

Alice Audrey said...

He didn't see that coming? Silly me, of course not. Denial is such a sad thing.