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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 23 page 07

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“You don’t need to explain, I shouldn’t have asked. I should have let this go,” Maryanne said.

“No, you were right to ask. There’s just nothing I can say for myself.”

David was back on the road before breakfast. They made their goodbyes at the motel room door and David kissed Maryanne’s cheek and wished her well, the warmth of the Florida sun on the back of his neck. It felt final.

Then they both joined the Keystone Oaks High School alumni Facebook page and it started all over again.

David checked his watch a third time. A bus pulled into the station on the other side of the highway and both David and Maryanne looked over at it and hoped it wasn’t Maryanne’s bus. But it was.

“Half an hour,” he said.

They held hands across the table. The waitress removed the syrup-smeared plate from the edge of the table. David felt light, and young and carefree again, like junior year. He wanted another way to harness that feeling and keep it all the time.

“I’m thinking about taking a position overseas,” Maryanne said.

“Oh.”

David wasn’t so carefree any longer.

“Yes. I hate to tell you this way, but, you know, the clock is ticking.”

“Where?”

Maryanne had to think about it. She’d never been off the North American continent and knew that whatever she said, it might not stand up to scrutiny.

“Spain,” she said.

“Damn.”

He looked down the little hall that led to the washrooms and the back door.

“God damn,” he said.

“Nothing’s set in stone,” she said. “I wouldn’t have to travel so much.”

“We’d never see each other.”

“Well, it probably won’t happen,” she said. “Excuse me.”

Maryanne dug out her purse from beneath her parka, scarf and hat. She looked around for the washroom, then over her shoulder at the waitress. She always tried to pay the check, but David wouldn’t have it.

“Could I have the bill please?”

“It’s taken care of, ma’am.”

Maryanne turned to David.

“You didn’t,” she said. “You couldn’t have.”

“It’s done,” he said, pleased with himself.

“I have to make a trip to the ladies’ room,” Maryanne said.

In the washroom, she studied herself in the mirror, wondering what David saw that worried him. Then she ran the faucet. Taking the pills out of her purse, she took two and scooped water up in her hand to wash them down.

When Maryanne came back to the table, David had his coat on. He’d moved her suitcase over to his side of the table. Maryanne didn’t sit down, she finished the last sip of her coffee then started looping the scarf around her neck.

David carried her suitcase to his car, threw it in the trunk and drove across the highway to the bus station, his car’s heater up full blast. Maryanne touched the vents with her fingertips and felt the warm air roll over them. David tapped the knob and the radio turned on. He played a CD with their song on it, a CD he listened to on long drives between cities, between clients, between work and family.

There wasn’t enough time to play the whole song. David shut the car off and took Maryanne’s suitcase out of the trunk. She stood close, watching his face and watching her breath rise up toward it. She studied his face, every detail, wanting to remember how he looked in that moment and superimpose that image over all the distant memories of the boy she’d known. It wasn’t long before the driver lifted her suitcase, turned it on its side and slid in into the belly of the bus.

“You know I love you, right?” David said, pulling her in tight and kissing the side of her hat.

“I love you too,” she said.

Maybe if David knew, he’d leave Allison. Maryanne fantasized about David moving in to her apartment, holding her through the long nights and cooking her meals. The doctors said she’d have about two years, give or take. But where would that leave David, his life in shambles and kids that hated him?

As the bus pulled away from the terminal she waved at David, snow piling on his shoulders and in his hair. Maybe they’d have one, even two good nights together, glued to each other by sweat, watching TV and laughing. Then it would get too bad, her body would begin to consume itself slowly, cell by cell, and the only comfort she could imagine was the warmth of David’s hand on top of hers.

Without the sex this time, David felt no remorse. He didn’t think about showering and washing Maryanne off his skin before going home, watching the water carrying her essence circle the drain. As the tail-lights of the Greyhound bus disappeared down the highway, David felt happy. Maryanne’s smile always made him happy, it made the road easier to take.