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Snow drifted across the windshield, broad blank flakes that outdid the wipers, their pendulum motions dulled to juddering flailing. Eventually we pulled up alongside the train tracks and turned our faces toward the hidden mountains, running the windows down zip-zap quick to get whatever stilted view there was. We passed boxes of crackers and a lukewarm flask between us in comfortable silence and then, without much in the way of discussion, we made love on the back seat, cheeks pressed damply together.
The old saloon wagon became like a womb, covered in the skin of ice, sheltering our raw nakedness from the worst of the chill as we rocked together. The radio played up to my imaginings offering muffled pinches of show-tunes from way out over the valley; carpet-slipper tapping classics of a kind old folk enjoy. I sighed and pressed my ear to Michael’s chest, feeling the hair tickle my helix like a delicious, whispered secret. His roughened palm stroked up and down my back and then, after a time, his fingers began creeping into the narrow gully of my buttocks to signal that he wanted me again. I pretended to be asleep, not because I didn’t want him but because the shy little spanks he imparted in his attempt rouse me sent my blood rushing from my head, thawing me out and turning my climates tropical in ways I had clean forgotten could be done. I was glad of Michael then, and I showed it until he was spent and quivering in my arms.
Darkness had gathered around us, but in a rare twist of nature the snow seemed to trap and hold the last of the light a little longer than usual and I used it to try (and eventually fail) to read the map he held out to me. Michael was smiling encouragingly so I pretended to know what I was about and forced my unsteady agreement with the coloured lines and penned stars. Stalling for time, I twisted to get another cracker and the zip of his hoodie slid cool and firm against my nipple. I looked him up and down and he put his hand in the shaggy nest of my hair; by the time we were finally ready to drive on darkness was upon us in full, the map forgotten.
When I let him out at the motel, he thanked me for a nice time and for the ride along. I thanked him for a nice ride and for passing time along. It was silly and I felt like a goose for saying it, but he just looked at me a little funny, like all the emotion in him was welling up and he didn’t know why. “You driving back this way? Tomorrow maybe?”
I told him I was not and let his disappointment soothe my own aching chest and return some strength to my sex-heavy limbs. I told him I was a drifter too and he nodded, all solemn, as if our kind holds this knowledge as a sacred truth; not just a happening of circumstance. My tyres and his boots crunched the same snow, a million individual snowflakes all coming together ready to be faded away in due course. I could see the poetry of it but I had no desire for it to change. Drifters never do.