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Eric Bennett
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Pickup

 

Eric Bennett

 

 

 

I arrive at JFK. There’s a fine rain falling. I pick up my suitcase at baggage claim, a bystander muttering how it’s supposed to turn to sleet. I smoke my last cigarette in the bone-cold air, inspecting windshields of arriving cars for the shape of your face. 

 

I watch skittering children rush to their father who won’t hang up his cell phone, an old woman trying to keep her bag from being stepped on, a sexy young woman leaning, reading Rolling Stone. My smoke is interrupted by a man wiping his glasses with a Kleenex one lens at a time, “Do you know where parking lot ‘K’ is?”

 

The sight of our car relieves me. You have, after all, forgotten to pick me up before. Pulling to the curb, you pop the trunk. I put my bag in the back and see there’s a new sticker on the bumper with an environmental slogan – We think green.

 

“It was warm when I left,” I say getting into the passenger seat, “and all of a sudden it’s winter.”

 

You lean over and kiss the rose of my cheek. “My word, that’s a nice suit” you say. “A bit flashy, but it makes you look lean.”

 

I smile, noticing on the dash a Styrofoam cup with the red of your lips circling the edge. I’m thinking irony is a green sticker on the bumper and a Styrofoam cup on the dash, but I don’t say anything.     

 

On the drive home, having first told you in detail how incompetent the ticketing agent was, you tell me about your mother’s new boyfriend. With the heat blowing your hair into an eighties glamour shot, you then ask me how the trip was. I distract you with details: tell you how great the fukusa sushi was, how boring the speakers were, and how the airplane pilot was a midget.

 

And then, like when you try to eat a bowl of soup when they give you a pair of chopsticks – I laugh like that. But you aren’t buying it. Somehow, you know.

 

Your hands clench the steering wheel with frightening insistence. The road passes under our feet and the tires sound like tha-tump, tha-tump, tha-tump, and in this way we are snow-globed in the car. I think to myself that if the world isn’t coming to an end, it’s at least falling apart. And for the third time in our marriage, I fear for our marriage.

 

 

 

Eric Bennett lives in New York with his wife and four children.  He loves trees without leaves, the silence between songs on vinyl records, and beginning sentences with the word “and.”  His work appears in numerous literary and art journals including Writer’s Bloc, Bartleby Snopes, Ghoti Magazine,  LITnIMAGE, and PANK. 

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