Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Resting: An Excerpt

The following is an excerpt of my short story "Resting":

Brookforest was a low, sprawling facility that from the sky probably looked much like a smashed spider. The complex bore the traces of twenty-plus years under the Nebraska sun and storms and the neglect that reflected that familial neglect of those interred within.

Tracy’s stomach tightened each time she approached with the same tightness she remembered from the one time she had instigated an exercise regime that left her sore and sorry for herself. Coming up on Brookforest with Les made her feel worse. Surely he would think that she had just written her mother off and put her away for others to care for the way housekeepers care for the rooms of a highway motel.

Les, for his part, seemed as eager and interested as he did in any aspect of her life. He sat in the cab of her truck, his hands clenched, one around the other, betraying a nervousness. It had been his idea to meet her mother. He said that if they were starting an honest relationship than he had better meet her mother. Tracy had wanted to explain to him that what they had was an adult relationship that was not in any traditional way “honest.” She was concerned, though, that his real goal might be to size up their future, by seeing what she was likely to become, before getting in too deep.

They were only a few weeks into this relationship and she would take her chances. It had started, out of character for her, somewhat impulsively.

Like any other day, Tracy had steered the pick-up into the rest stop, with the AC blasting and the AM radio yammering about a harvest day festival at the county fairgrounds. She spun the wheel of her truck easily into a parking spot with one hand, while the other touched the sun-warmed saddle blanket seat cover and the blue workpants covering her thigh. First stop of the day and it was already hot.

To Tracy calling them rest stops didn't fit. While some resting took place, the half-acre that hugged the side of the interstate was mostly used for the bathrooms. Linking relieving one's self with resting didn't make much sense to her. Because she was employed to maintain rest stops, Tracy was more concerned with dirty diapers dropped in the parking lot and graffiti written in the stalls than the terminology.

The two rest stops on Nebraska's I-80 where she spent her days were so alike that she could forget whether she was on the eastbound or westbound side. The line of wind-whipped trees surrounding the area, and the others dispersed among picnic areas did little to stop the heat from collecting in the concrete and radiating back to her as she started a patrol of garbage cans. Tracy leaned her arms across the sides of the plastic trash bin she pushed along, the casters chugging uncomfortably against the concrete. Her eyes went momentarily to the three tractor-trailers parked in the far lot. Outside the shelter of the air-conditioned cab of the utility pick-up she drove, she began to sweat quickly. Beads rolled down her forehead, out of the short but thick and curly hair. The heat, though, did something positive to her. Because of her stocky shape, the heat gathered in her quickly, but it didn't overwhelm her. It radiated from her inside, out through her skin, making her aware of all the parts of her body. It began in her soft belly, her sides, her thighs, warming her center. The heat made her feel alive.

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