Summer Road Trip, part I


One of the hottest days of the year. The kind of day that demanded air conditioning, the sun was demonic, the air no relief, it simply moved the heat. But Halia refused to put the top up, wouldn’t let him, even when the radio said it was 100 degrees.
They had started the road trip on the interstate, 70 miles an hour, 80, 85. But, at a gas station/ice cream stand/boot shop/all you can eat buffet, they realized the trip was becoming just a contest of how fast they could travel. And that wasn’t what it was supposed to be.
It was supposed to be a Road Trip, get in the car and go, enjoy the journey, see something different. Play the radio and visit tourist traps, stay at single story motels and keep beers in a cooler in the back seat – live it up.
So they had moved on to two lane highways, no particular destination. The World’s Largest Lint Ball, Fastest Turtle Race, they stopped as often as they wanted, to do what they wanted, and took off their watches, turned off their phones.
Their trips always started with a coin toss, the beach or the mountains, north or south, fresh or salt water. This year, it had been Montana or Florida. Heads, Florida.
“Hey, since we’re stopped, lets put the top up, and turn on the air,” he suggested, although he had asked and been refused for the last 75 miles.
“Don’t be a pussy,” she told him. “With the top down, the air is blowing, how hot can you be? And I’m the one whose hair is in knots, so stop whining.”
As he filled the tank, she walked around the table made of plywood that held assorted produce, cantaloupes and peaches, the warm fruit fragrant in the humid air. There were grapes that were more raisins, and some strawberries that were well past their prime. As he pulled out his wallet to pay for the gas (No credit cards, Cash Only) a man walked out of the cinderblock building and set a box down on the table. It contained cherries, still covered in dew.
“These was just picked this mornin’,” the old man told them. “Its past time for cherries, but these was what was left after the first harvest, and some boys waited and pick ‘em, for me.”
She picked up as many cherries as two hands would hold and put them on the scale that hung on the awning over the table.
“How much are they, a pound,” she asked, adding another handful.
“Eh, I dunno, don’t usually sell cherries,” the old mans eyes narrowed, as if he were negotiating a deal with a diplomat. “Fi’ dollars a pound?”
“That’s three pounds, Demitri, pay the man,” she told him as the old man put the fruit in a basket.
She carried the fruit to a spigot on the side of the building and rinsed it, put her wet hands on the back of her neck and into her hair to cool her off, water dripping between her breasts, visible through the sundress she was wearing, the wind blowing it around her legs. She left a trail of water in the dirt.
Back in the car, she turned sideways in the seat as he drove (seat belt were optional on Summer Road Trip) and put her feet in his lap. She put the basket of fruit in her lap and pulled out a single cherry, letting it dangle from the stem.
“Look how ripe they are.”
He was still smarting from the price. “Just look purple to me.”
“No, they are the perfect purple-red, maroon. No, redder, wine, they are wine colored.”
“Well, I don’t think I want any, gonna have a beer in a minute. You go ahead and enjoy them.”
And he saw that she was enjoying them. He watched as he shifted gears. Her hair was blowing in her face as she ate, she had to tie it back behind her head. There was a method, he noticed, of eating cherries being employed here. Not any willy-nilly snacking, this was serious business.
Halia began by picking up the cherry by the stem, letting it dangle for a moment, shaking the water off. Put it in her mouth, and let her tongue curl around it to cup it.
Here, the procedure of eating the cherry did not go as one would think, if one were to contemplate how to eat a cherry. If you did consider how to eat a cherry, once it is in the mouth, the thing to do would be to close your teeth in front of it, and pull the stem out. Scrape the fruit from the pit, spit the pit out, done.
But the methodology was different for this woman sitting with her feet in his lap, eating cherries during Summer Road Trip with the wind whipping around their heads, Linda Ronstadt lecturing that they were no good. Demitri watched her and realized there was a purposefulness to the way she ate the cherries, the way she pushed her sunglasses up on her head so she he could see her eyes, looking at him, as she did this.
She picked up a cherry, popped it into her mouth, he imagined he could hear the tiny ‘P’ sound as she sucked in it, although that was impossible. She smiled, and he could see her white teeth in front of the dark fruit, her fingers still holding the stem. Then her lips closed around the stem, pursed together as if for a kiss. She bit into the fruit, a tiny drop of juice dribbled out of her mouth, down her chin, she did not wipe it away. He watched the sides of her cheeks sink in every so slightly, as she applied suction to the cherry. Then, slick as the proverbial whistle, she pulled the stem, with the pit still attached, out of her mouth. She held it out to him for just a second, evidence of something, testimony to what? She threw it over her shoulder, chewing and smiling. Then she put the basket in the floor, got onto her knees in the seat and leaned over the gearshift.
She got close enough to him that he could hear her whisper over the wind and the radio, her mouth stained, her breath sweet.
“Want to taste how sweet they are?” She slipped her mouth over his, sucked his tongue into her mouth. She turned her head, and somehow laid her tongue flat against his, sucking it. She tasted sweet and felt like a whirlpool, like she could simply pull all of him into her mouth, and he would go willingly, gladly, to wherever her mouth would take him.

2 responses »

  1. What a great introduction. I was so there in the scene with the heat and the wind. I loved the image of Halia cooling down with the water. Can’t wait to see where the road takes them. 🙂

  2. What is left unsaid is key and you did a fine job of NOT saying.
    Elaborate over use of stating the obvious hidden meanings would have killed this – you steered away from this nicely. I enjoy your work

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