Trailways 9

You call me from the bus station
Late on the Sunday night of Thanksgiving weekend.
You weren’t due back until Saturday.
You and Jake had gone to the UP to ski.

“Are you back?
What happpened?” I ask.

“Just me. Just come get me. Okay?”

“Leaving now.”

I put sweats on over my PJs,
pull on my snowboots and coat,
fish my mittens out of my pockets
as I walk to my car.

The seat is a block of ice.
“Start please God start.”
The cold engine turns over, finally, feebly.
I drive downtown through deserted streets,
peering through the small space
the defroster has cleared.

By the time I get to the bus station,
I am awake, and still cold, and ticked.
And then I see you,
standing alone under the streetlight
with your suitcase and skis.

“You got whiskey at your house?” you ask,
as we load your skis.

“Yeah, sure,” I answer.
“But don’t you want me
to drop you at your place?”

“No.”

While you stow your stuff,
I pull out my bottle of Jack Daniels.
You pour a drink for both of us.

We make up the couch,
of mismatched sheets
and odd blankets.

We settle on the floor,
leaning against the sofa,
warming our feet against the clanky radiator.

“Nuther one?” you ask.

“Not until you tell me what’s going on.”

“You always were a nosy bitch.”
Your laugh is dry.

Then you look at the dark windows.

“I told him.
He freaked out.
We broke up.
He said it was my fault and my problem.
He threw my stuff out into the snow.
So I hitched to the station and here you find me.”

“The hell with Jake. Damn frat boy.
What a smug prick.”

“But Jake is..was…I mean. I thought we…”

I don’t remember what I said after that,
nothing profound, I’m sure.
But I do remember staying up all night.
Making coffee in the tin pot.
Talking, playing REM albums,
while frost formed on the rattling windows.

Just before it started to get light,
you crawl into the sofa, and sleep.

It starts to snow.

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