Allen and Jessica said awful things to each other before getting in the car. The dry July air wisped into the open car windows and brushed across Allen’s face. He wanted to smile.
After driving on the freeway for a while, Allen realized he was picking at a gray thread attached to the car door. He didn’t want to argue in the car because there was nowhere for him to pace. He picked at the gray thread for a few more miles.
Jessica stared out the window. The drive to her mom’s house was familiar: the yellow and white freeway daisies, dents in the guardrails, low flying sea gulls.
The silence in the car was broken when Alan said, “I’ve been peeing with the door open for years and now it’s a problem?”
Jessica opened her window a little to let the rest of the silence out of the car. She said, “And for years I’ve asked you to pee with the door closed.”
Allen ran his fingers along the door handle, searching for the gray thread once again. Finding it, he pulled on the thread until it broke off, and then dropped it to the floor. The sadness from arguing with Jessica began to fade away and the memory of her smile from last year’s church carnival made him laugh. He said, “You remember last year’s church carnival when you wore the jester’s hat and we played with the kids?”
“So.” She uncrossed her arms and relaxed into the seat.
Allen said, “I’ll always remember your smile from that day.”
She poked him in the side and said, “We had fun,” and smiled.