The first girl slides off her shoes and puts her feet on the floor of the car. Empty bags of chips are on the mat. She grabs at a couple and drops them in the back.
The second girl, driving, doesn’t take her eyes off the road, curving around walls of forest. She says we should clean this the next time we stop. The first girl says kay and reclines her seat back. The second girl sighs and rests her hand on the first girl’s thigh. The first girl squeezes the second girl’s hand. She says good night. She tilts herself toward the door.
The car stops at an Arco station. The first girl stirs and says where we?
Hour from Coeur D’Alene. We need to clean the car.
The first girl sits up. Past the overhead station lights, she can make out husky scattershot silhouettes of low-rise buildings. We shouldn't be here, she says.
We need gas and the car's filthy, says the second girl. She takes her long, stocky frame out of the car.
Oh we'd make it! says the first girl, aggravated. The gauge is fucked and I don't want—
The car’s filthy says the second girl. Since you're up, you wanna fill the tank? Thanks. She shuts the door and lopes toward the store, and the first girl fixates on the point of the second girl’s Adam’s Apple serenely obtruding into the store’s light as she pulls open a glass door.
A boy sits behind a counter on a fluorescent-orange stool, playing with one of the Zippos. He yawns and glugs from a tall cup of cool coffee. A man with a grey coat on the other end of the store is by the fountain drinks filling a cup with Mello Yello.
The second girl enters and the boy looks up. She smiles and moves to the snacks. The boy watches her. The first girl likes cashews, and the second girl takes two packages. They are out of Clorox wipes and Advil, and the second girl takes those as well. The second girl considers coffee before settling on soda, and passes the man in the grey coat. He accidentally bumps her, and he doesn't spill his soda but one of the cashew packages slips out of the second girl’s hand. He bends down and says pardon and she nods, takes the cashews back, and squeaks a thanks.
The man scans her body as he rises. He takes in her legs, her boobs, her jaw, her eyes. He pauses and looks at her level and hard, his facial expression blank while the second girl tries very hard to do the same. Then he smiles, tips his Mariners cap and heads for the counter. The boy puts down the Zippo and beeps in the man’s purchase. The second girl fills up a cup with Mello Yello.
The first girl fuels up, cleans the car. She throws away empty bags of chips, cashews. She throws away soda and coffee cups, fast food receipts. She takes books cluttered on the back floor mats, drops them into bags in the trunk. She wonders if she can't find the Clorox wipes, or if they're actually out. She looks through the store windows, sees the wipes nestled under the second girl's armpit.
The first girl smiles, then sees the boy and the man with the grey coat. She freezes for a second, then grabs the car keys, shuts the door, locks it, and walks inside. The keys jingle in the pocket of her hoodie, unzipped, banging against her jeans.
The man is showing the boy a book and the second girl is deliberating on chips when the first girl comes inside. All three look up at the first girl. The second girl’s face pulls back in a bun of fear. The boy stares at the first girl, and the man looks from the first girl, to the second girl, to the first girl. The second girl raises the yellow cylinder and says got the wipes! The first girl says thanks.
The man clears his throat, puts a hand in his pocket, and begins walking toward the second girl. The boy begins walking toward the first girl. The second girl, rabbit-eyed, resolutely fixed to the floor, only moves once the man is a few feet away. She runs to an emergency-exit door and shoulders it open. The first girl runs out and starts the car. The man and the boy look at each other. One shrugs, and the other shakes his head and takes a slurp from his drink.
Casey Plett has been a columnist for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and was a contributor to the Topside Press anthology The Collection: Short Fiction from the Transgender Vanguard. Her work has also appeared in Two Serious Ladies, Line Zero, Cavalier Literary Couture, and the Manitoban. She lives in Winnipeg, Canada and loves Miriam Toews with a vengeance.