Rating: PG-13, for brief, semi-explicit sex.
Until he's tracked her from an apartment that never burned to a house in San Jose. Just to see. Just...
The houses all look the same, stucco and sprawl and sparkling lawns, and he might have driven past it, but.
She’s planted suncups and desert zinnias. Her favorites. A bright red swing stands in the sprawling front yard.
She’s there, bare shoulders and freckly tan, blue sundress clinging at her knees.
She's cut her hair so it just skims her shoulder, darker than he remembers it. Straighter too. If he ran his fingers through it in the dark, would he even recognize...
She spots him, the stolen beater he's driving at a creep, head turned her way. He has shades on, wants to pull them off so he'll get an undimmed look at her. But she's watching. She looks at him, with those eyes that used to stare down at him when she was riding him, warm and blurred by the sun coming in the window, sweat gathering at the dip of her throat. Used to laugh up at him when she tucked herself under his arm and whispered something that made him blush, warmer than the sun. His tongue feels dry and his fingers sticky, like she’s coating them, sex or tears or blood.
Beside her, a little girl’s head bobbles, sandy brown curls scattering in the faint breeze. She’s got a colt's legs, long like her mother's, unsure and undeterred. She tips, crashes to the ground but a second later he can see she's giggling. Bouncing up again, headstrong, like she's never known hurt. This girl is only here because he isn't.
Jess squats and reaches for her daughter, and he can see her hand and remember how her fingers felt, nimble and beautiful, while they're wrapping around the downy flesh of her baby girl's arm. Gently tugging her, scooping her up. Backing away from the street and from him, mouth parting, calling to someone inside the open door, the quiet house, safety. Away from him.
He drives on.