An old couple picked corn off the stock, throwing it in a large wicker basket, and they kept walking, towards a sinking sun. They repeated it again.
He watched them from the side of the road, his car hung back with the trunk open, on a small bump that gave a short view of the fields length, a blue tint reflected off the deafening orange of the sun.
He flicked a grain stalk between his teeth, his fingers picking at the tint at the edge of the lowered drivers window.
“This is inspiration?” She asked.
“Porter, is it?”
“Yep, it really is. Where else you going to think unobstructed? Find a place that you’d never think of, a field, the country–a slaughterhouse. Just something so out of your place.”
“You get what I’m saying.”
She kicked her bare feet against the dash, her yellow skirt wrinkled around her legs, and she stared at the faint whimper of the evening sky.
“I get it, you’re different enough that I wonder how’s a guy like you still alone?”
“It’s a choice.”
“Yeah. What’s it about to you? Solitude, career, carefree?”
“Hard to say, once you’ve lost something, you always think being alone sounds like a better deal—but it doesn’t bother if you focus, you don’t have to think about what’s lost.”
“Then you just focus on what you’ve already lost.”
“Damned if you fuck you, and damned if you don’t.” He responded.
“Elegant,” she passed a glance to him, from eloquence to crass, he shifted between the two speeds.
“Anna,” he’d bored himself in this novel, and said her name enough times to forget that any other word had as much weight.
“Yeah?” She listened, and kept her eyes on the aching bones of the old home, that the couples in the twilight walked back to. The man reached his arm to wrap his fingers around hers, crops of corn aged in their fingers, and tightened their hold.
How’d it feel to be at that point? Life flittering by, options slim, and this is the place you put all your bets. Sunk all your chips on this one last gamble. It was the home you made in another person, the part of you , the you you can’t get back.
“I’d give it all up for you,” he said, without a nuance of romance, but a lucid fact.
“Give what up?” her fingers ran along the panel of the car door, digging at the leather, tempering her fingers with each pull.
“It’s all suave passé.”
She picked harder at the door, “you don’t have to, you wouldn’t, you have a lot going on.”
“Yeah, but it always comes back empty, something’s missing, and there’s a lot I never said, or got to tell.”
“And you’d tell me about where you’ve been?”
“If it meant I got you. Yeah.”
“Tell me anyway.”
“There’s other ways to say no,” he pressed his head against the leaned Chevy seat, flicking the grain stalk between his canines.
A gray flake ripped off the leather, she stopped playing with it, “I can’t be anyone’s, Porter.”
I’m barely my own, she said to herself, wishing it wasn’t true.
“Yeah. It’s hard.”
“Is it?” She said.
The old couple walked inside, only the screen door swung behind them, with an audible silence.
“Maybe that’s it, you know? You spend so much time fucking, that you take so much for granted, that when you’re done, it turns out you’re the one who’s been fucked.”
“And there it is.” She said.
“There it is, Porter,” another echo, “always too late.”
“Yeah.” He tapped the glass window, “they were a cute old couple.”
He’d followed her eyes, watching the field as she had, and he saw an elderly couple who choose each other with every new corn stalk they picked, chosen them as if they’d chosen each other in that field.
All those years of history, that brevity. He squinted his eyes with a narrow glance, wanting to see the world as she did.
If that couple hadn’t chosen each other, then they’d made a choice, to not be alone, just to always have a warm body at the end of the day. A bookmark in a book to remind you where you’d left off.
If they didn’t choose each other, and all that history was driven, the old man wouldn’t have been loyal to any woman, and the old lady would have fallen in love with just about anyone.
And somewhere that became the end of the line.