Rose drove a convertible white land shark Father left in the garage when he was away on business. She drove up the coast with Tom and didn’t feel like a drag. The radio played the Jefferson Airplane when the garden flowers, baby, are dead yes, the wind off the ocean blowing her hair all around. And your mind, your mind, is so full of red: Mother’s potted tulips wilting in the So Cal sun.
They had a picnic with Gallo wine, strong sharp cheese, and an apple Tom split between them with his boy scout pocket knife, there by the cliffs at Refugio. The green Mexican blanket in the back seat was a little scratchy when they lay down on it. She never got cold.
Through Santa Barbara, under the palms at Hope Ranch and along the white sand it rained but they didn’t put the top up. When she drove around and around the dolphin fountain Tom was laughing. He hardly ever laughed.
That summer they sent her away.
Pistons pumping, a lawn-mower pulse and wheeze. She looks over her shoulder. The VW comes up fast: dull black in flat German-November light. Thumbs hooked under leather backpack straps, hands numb, Rose walks backward keeping her gaze straight and sober toward the driver. Gravel rasps under her boots. He pulls over a few paces ahead, pushes the passenger door open like a gate. Even if she wants to keep going, she can’t. She doesn’t want to keep going.