There’s nothing like a weekend trip to spark up the romance. A nice three-day love fest to restart our engines. My girlfriend Pilar wasn’t as excited as I, but you can’t predict everyone’s ignition point. We needed a break. I knew it, but she refused to acknowledge our days of wine and roses were numbered.
My car was freshly washed, the interior rubbed down with whatever chemicals those fellas at the car wash used. Peach may have been the predominant ingredient, conjuring images of Georgia, and women with cut off blue jean shorts. I was a bit sour we weren’t going as far as Georgia, but it was okay. Our scheduled trip was to the wine country of southwestern Michigan, where we had a room booked at a bed and breakfast. The room was pricey, but I was striving to make this weekend memorable.
The simple things I required for a road trip stayed in my car at all times. Sunflower seeds (they never get stale!), a Rand-McNally road map, and a small cooler, able to hold 18 beers if they were loaded right. My car was fully gassed, ready to roll, but Pilar hadn’t come outside yet. I sat in the driver’s seat, tapping my fingers against the wheel. I was hyped to hit the road, and I refused to let her dampen my spirits.
I hoped she had not forgotten to pack anything. On every road trip, she always left something, a toothbrush, deodorant, something. Whatever small thing she forgot always became a bone of contention for her to blame me for because I rushed her, or had upset her, making it always my fault. Pilar was adamant about everything always being my fault. If it was raining outside, somehow I was to blame. Slight exaggeration, but not by much.
Pilar strode towards the car, looking amazing in a yellow sundress. For a brief moment, I remembered the first time I saw her. I tripped over myself in an effort to introduce myself. Somehow this beautiful woman had let me into her life. I was grateful then, but now I realize I’d been the prize in this relationship. Every man before me had been typical, buying her things, paying her bills, and the only places she’d been before me were Vegas and Miami. In our relatively short two years together, we’d taken at least ten trips. I didn’t want to buy her things; I wanted to impress her with the world.
“It’s about time you showed up, I had almost changed my mind about going,” she said, sliding into the passenger side seat. “ Are you going to put my bags in, or not?
There wasn’t a kiss, a morning greeting, or even a smile acknowledging my presence. I stepped out of the car and walked around to her side. Pilar had three bags, and I couldn’t understand why, because we’d only be away for a couple of days. After placing the bags in the trunk, I made a wager with myself she still had forgotten something.
By the time I got back in, the radio station had been changed, and the passenger side seat was reclined, indicating to me Pilar wanted to sleep, and not talk. Fine with me. I was willing to wait until we got to Michigan to say whatever I needed to.
The radio show we were listening to kept me entertained, mixing funny stories and anecdotes with soul music. I adjusted the volume up, in an attempt to drown out Pilar’s snoring. I should have been used to it, but we didn’t live together, and in recent weeks, we hadn’t been intimate on any level. I knew enough about Pilar to write her biography, knowing she only snored when she hadn’t been getting enough rest. She hasn’t been telling me much about her activities lately.
I cruised, letting the radio show act as my co-pilot. When you find a level of contentment and acceptance in the depths of your soul, don’t let anybody tamper with your peace. I was in a peaceful place, content with the decisions I’d made.
Pilar woke up a couple of hours later, about an hour away from our destination. The radio station was starting to fade out, and I hadn’t bothered to switch to another. My mind was elsewhere, and I wished Pilar had remained sleep.
Out of the corner of my eye, I watched her patting her pockets. Then she retrieved her purse from the back seat, and started rummaging through it. Here we go again, I thought to myself, she’s forgotten something.
“We need to turn around, I left my cell phone. I sat it down by the window when I was waiting for you to show up. If you’d been on time, this never would have happened,” she said, a note of anger in her voice.
“ I was seven minutes late. We’re almost there, and I’m not driving three hours back to Chicago for you to retrieve your phone,” I said, in a calm voice. “ As long as you have your wallet and ID, you’re fine. This weekend is supposed to be about us, not anything else. Who do you need to talk to that’s so important? You’re with me.”
“ That’s not the point,” she snapped. “ I have friends I need to be in contact with, so they’ll know I’m alright. I feel naked without my phone, disconnected.”
“ This weekend is about disconnecting, so whoever you need to talk to will have to wait until we get back,” I said.
Silence reigned for the majority of the rest of the ride. I could feel the anger emanating from her, and for the first time in our relationship, I could care less. If anybody should be angry, it should be me.
In a relationship, when someone starts to change, it usually means something in his or her life has shifted. Maybe their focus wasn’t on the relationship any more because they were determined to put themselves first. Maybe they weren’t as in love with you as you were they. Or perhaps they’d met someone else.
The other night, while daydreaming about all of the sexual activities Pilar and I would indulge in this weekend, I had a disheartening realization. We hadn’t made love in at least three weeks, which was strange for us. Typically, we couldn’t keep our hands off each other, but lately there’d been nothing. Pilar would claim she was busy with work or she was having her cycle, or she wasn’t feeling well. Silly me would encourage her to rest or take medication, thinking of her well-being. The truth was she was seeing someone else.
It all made sense. Every conversation between us was seasoned with her sarcasm and snappish retorts for no reason. I’d done nothing to merit her responses except to be me. Last weekend we’d gone out for drinks, and I’d stared in disbelief as she texted on her phone for the duration of our time together. I’d been pretty much ignored until the check came. That’s when she finally put her phone away, smiling widely at me. At the time, I’d thought it was because we were about to have an intense lovemaking session, but no dice. Her cycle was down, according to her. I knew her cycle like the back of my hand, but sometimes they are irregular. The other night, when the pieces fell into place, I realized why she’d been smiling. She was smiling because the time for us to part ways was at hand, freeing her to do whatever else, or whomever else, she wanted to.
I’d tried to find a friend in a bottle of spirits, but to no avail. I’d gotten tipsy, itching to call Pilar and curse her out. Maybe it would have made me feel better for a moment, but I dismissed the thought. When the bottle is empty, and the hateful words can’t be recovered, what do you have? Nothing, the same shit you started out with.
The bed ‘n breakfast was a couple of miles off the highway, overlooking Lake Michigan. Being a Chicagoan, I always regarded it as my lake, not to be claimed by anyone else. The funny thing is you can’t claim anything or anyone, which really doesn’t belong to you. The lake wasn’t mine, and neither was Pilar. They belonged to themselves.
I drove the car into the circular driveway of the B&B, stopping the car close to the entrance. I shut the car off, and looked at Pilar.
“There’s a corner of your mind, that you don’t talk about. A small piece of unsatisfied yearnings classified as me. The people may think one thing, but you and I know the truth. And the small piece of your mind can’t help the storm of emotions regarding me. I’m a hurricane and every person who comes after me is a spring drizzle. At least this is what I believe, you may feel differently,” I said. “You go ahead and check us in, while I park the car and grab the bags.”
The look on Pilar’s face was one of stunned incredulity. She’d probably never really thought about me as a prize, while focusing so much on herself and her beauty. Beauty is only skin deep, but Pilar had yet to learn the lesson. Being beautiful on the outside isn’t enough. The underlying assets are what make a person truly beautiful.
Pilar got out of the car, closing the door softly. The reservations were in her name, but I was supposed to pay the cost of our stay. I pulled the car around the side of the building. With the car still running, I removed her bags from the car, and set them on the ground. I slid back in the car, and made a U-turn.
Within two minutes, I was back on the highway, headed home to Chicago. I wondered idly if she knew the number of the new person in her life by heart. I hoped so, but then again, I hoped not. I’m not so easily replaced.
© 2016 Marlon Hayes, All rights reserved
-Marlon S. Hayes
Marlon S. Hayes is a writer, poet, and author from Chicago, Illinois. He’s the author of View from the Sidelines, a poetry collection,Touching Myself, an erotic anthology, and his latest, Perceptions of Beauty. He’s a featured author in the upcoming anthology, A Journey of Words from Scoutmedia. Currently, he’s looking for a publisher for his novel, Eleven Fifty Nine. Follow him at Marlon’s Writings on Facebook.
Photo credit: Bernard Basley