She found an unnamed country road to drive down for a few moments. Then she pulled the rusty Ford Explorer over to the side underneath the towering white pine tree with light blue-green leaves. She turned the engine off and then began to cry inside her hands.

Gloria didn’t wonder why. There wasn’t one particular reason. It wasn’t what happened to the dog nor was it some kind of postmenopausal mood swing. It was just a little bit of everything. Seeing Lou look at her with those caring eyes.

She forgot what that expression looked like.

She missed them.

Gloria rubbed her eyes and then felt the drooping, clumped skin under them. She felt those lines, then felt how full her face felt. She didn’t know why she was doing this, why she was going there, why of all times she suddenly felt this way. It wasn’t as if she’d woken up and looked in the mirror and wondered what had happened.

Something else is there inside.

 The tsunamis that came and wiped out so much. This felt like black water filling her insides and suffocating any kind of light.

“You guys need to be careful.”

The tears continued a little while longer. She wished she could have been more careful years ago. Years ago when she had felt strong and beautiful. When she was too full of herself to ever pull the car over and stop to have a tiny breakdown.

More like a pity party.

Her body shook as she started the car, as if it was telling her to turn around.


Telling her to start heading back to town and then to keep going. To keep driving. South or east or west but anywhere except toward home.

The shaking continued for the rest of the trip. But the tears stayed underneath that hundred-year-old white pine.