Saturday 24 June 2023

'Redline' by Rich Youmans



0–90 along the backroad peach blossoms fly

He slips glances at her sunlit inner thigh as he throttles and shifts, the hemi whining wire-tight. All day he's waited for her, driving the same streets from stoplight to stoplight, as shadows climbed the stubby Main Street buildings. Now she's done with ringing up Dixies, with fending off the locals in their threadbare tees and splattered workpants. He shifts again as they take the bend by Miller's Farm. She flashes one of Old Man Miller's prized bulls before it can even look up. She laughs, her blond hair blowing wild, all the windows down. She holds her open palm into the wind as if to sail away, gives him that sideways look. Tonight they'll park again out by the lake. Already he can feel her flesh on his, see her pale face shining as if to slip its skin, hear her breath giving life to wishes—to head out west, past the Mississippi's muddy flow. To drive away, far from her parents' shotgun rooms, his father's temper and pile of empties. His graveyard shift. To find a plot of land, green and deep. To see nothing but what they can call their own.

crossroads    down every turn the same horizon


First published in MacQueen's Quinterly, Issue 6, January 2021.

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