We had pulled off the highway at Coleman Avenue. Gas station by the airport. Where we would stop coming up from our friend’s farm in Watsonville. Before she sold the automatic for a stick shift truck and road-tripped across America. Like she always wanted to, from when we first met. Breakdown in Kettleman City. Settled in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
“I’m going to get a Coke” I say. “You want anything?” The gas station canopy cuts the sun into a shadow athwart the dash. She says no. “You sure?” I ask, lingering. “Be back in a few then.”
And I remember how I used to buy her a drink from the corner store when she was having a bad day. A Jarritos Mineragua. She would exclaim in a cute excitement, lying on the couch with hair cascading and rest her feet on my lap. Two dollars and change for the Coke. A broken 20 in my left jeans pocket.
From the threshold of the Extra Mile I squint at the beating tarmac. I hunch toward the stick shift truck. The soccer stadium indistinct in the heat. The architecture of a memory.
Opening the door I hand her 10 bucks. “For gas” I say with pertness. “Oh, thanks” she says, distracted, texting. She’s driving to Oakland to see her boyfriend anyway.
The car door slams, metal on metal, hinge resisting. 880 N toward Fremont.