Reads: 537

“Blue one.”

I watch as a cobalt blue Chevy Cruze sails past us, easily doing eighty in a sixty five, which is a really stupid fucking idea, considering it’s downpouring.

“How many points is that now?” Tucker asks, grinning over at me.

His black hair is still damp from running inside to the last gas station we stopped at to fill up on gas. It’s curling wildly at the edges, stuffed underneath his backwards Snap-On tools hat. His jeans are splattered with rain drops, and the black Marshall Tucker t-shirt he has on is pasted to his tan skin. Copper eyes bore into mine, waiting for an official answer.

“Fifty. You win for this round,” I sigh, twirling a piece of my soggy hair.

He fist pumps the air, the koi fish tattoo on his arm dancing up and down. “Told ya.”

“Yeah yeah. Blue is a popular color for a car. Quit rubbing it in. Pick your next color.”


Internally, I groan. Black is also a stellar choice of vehicle color. Tucker’s won the past three games of the car color count. The rules of the game are simple: each person picks a color. Anytime you see a vehicle with your color, you earn a point. First one to fifty wins. On the interstate, each round only lasts about ten minutes. I’m honestly getting a little sore about losing.

I readjust against the side of the door, pulling my blanket farther up under my chin. “Fine. Silver.”

“You’re going down.”

“Put a cork in it, kid.”

“Kid? I’m six years older than you.”

“Your maturity level doesn’t reflect that.”

Reaching over, he cranks the heat up higher, blasting warm air through the cab of the truck. I shiver, wishing I could grab the dry hoodie out of my duffle bag, but it’s behind my seat. I don’t want to unbuckle my seat belt on the freeway and turn around to rifle through the bag.

“I wish when you had packed my clothes, you were a little more conscience of the weather. It’s fucking freezing in here.”

“It might be from the ice inside your soul.”

When Tuck snatched me from my nice warm bed a week ago, he had spent the night, claiming that he needed a shower and wanted some company. Me, being an idiot, accepted this ploy and welcomed him in with open arms. I cooked him a hot meal and we played Trouble before I went to bed around midnight. Little did I know, he had slept the whole day prior and spent most of the night rummaging through my house, gathering toiletries, clothes, making sure my house was clean, and packing extras like a camera, my prosthetic, and Tylenol and Ibuprofen. Being that I sleep like a log, I didn’t have a frickin’ clue. He even got a hold of Joe and paid him to look after Stewie.

Initially, I was kicking myself in the ass for even introducing them when Joe stopped by the house one night when Tucker was over. They naturally hit it off, and they’ve had a bromance ever since. So when Tucker called Joe to tell him about this damn road trip idea, Joe, of course, thought it was a wonderful idea to get me out of the house. He offered to watch Stewie for free. They’ve been texting everyday since we left, and Joe sends Tuck and I pictures of Stewie daily.

Tucker did a fantastic job packing all of my stuff. The only thing he didn’t think about was how the weather changes in September. He loaded up a duffle bag with plenty of socks, t-shirts, pajama bottoms, and shorts, but totally forgot about bras, underwear, and jeans. I’ve just been freeballing it, hoping no one notices. The hoodie I wore that morning was the only one I currently have. Which brings me back to my current predicament.

“I’m not the Ice Queen. You just didn’t pack any warm clothes.”

“How was I supposed to know you’re always cold? Black one.”

A black Dodge Ram flies past us, spraying the front of the truck with a flood of rain water. Goddamnit.

“Common sense. When have you ever seen me in just a tshirt? I always have a hoodie on.”

“You didn’t that night at the grocery store.”

“It was ninety degrees that day. Sue me.”

“I’m just saying, you don’t always wear a hoo--”

My cell phone violently jerks to life, blasting “These Days” by the Rascal Flatts out of its tiny speaker.


Fortunately, Tuck sees the name flashing on the screen and keeps his mouth shut. He has the good grace to turn down the music. Reaching for my Camels, I put the pack up to my lips and grab one out with my teeth, lighting it and taking a long drag before answering the phone. Only God can help me now.


“Hello Cierra. Where are you? It’s Sunday, and I thought we were meeting for coffee at Julie’s. You didn’t forget again, did you?”

“Hey Ma. I’m actually out of town right now.”

“Out of town? You never go out of town. Where are you really?”

Even over the phone, I swear I can feel her eyes narrowing. I’m convinced the woman really does have a sixth sense. Somehow, she just knows.

“Ohio,” I mumble, flicking ash out of the open window.

“What are you doing in Ohio?”

“Taking a mini road trip. Just wanted to get out of Wisconsin for a while.”

“Who are you with?”

Jesus Christ, how does she know?

“One of my friends.”

“You don’t have friends besides Joe, and I saw him the other day in the post office. Who are you really with?”

“Ouch. That’s harsh.”

“Cierra Joy, please stop avoiding my questions.”  

I bite my lip, glancing over at Tucker. He’s making a great show of pretending not to listen, keeping his eyes straight ahead on the road. Sneaking a look in my direction, he mouths “black” and subtly points to a semi creeping up on our left side. Shaking my head, I point to the trailer, which is white. He rolls his eyes before paying attention to the road again.

“Cierra, answer the damn question.” She’s getting impatient.

“I’m with a guy friend.”

I hear the sharp intake of breath on the other end of the line. She must be in the diner, because I listen as what sounds like a spoon clatters against the table. This is not good. Not good at all.

“What in the hell are you thinking? You’re on a trip with a man? That’s just great, Cierra. What about your bills? What about your dumb cat? You’re an adult. You have responsibilities and priorities. You can’t just up and walk away and decide to go on a fucking trip without telling anyone. The entire town is going to know about this within days. Days.

Her voice is steely and full of quiet rage. I think this is the most angry I’ve ever heard Ma before. She almost never swears. To listen to her drop an F-bomb in public is unheard of. She’s normally pretty calm and collected, but I tend to piss her off. More than Kyle ever did.

“Ma, you’re right. I am an adult now. Therefore, I make my own decisions. Yes, I’m on a road trip with a man. My bills I can pay online. Joe’s watching my dumb cat. And yes, I can go on a trip without anyone knowing. Tucker’s the only person I’ve talked to in the last six years that can hold a conversation with me without staring at my missing leg. When I go into town, no one bothers to make small talk with me. How is the entire town going to know about where I am? You, Tucker, and Joe are the only people I talk to. I’m with Tucker, Joe ain’t gonna say shit, and unless you casually bring it up in conversation, no one’s going to fucking know anything.”

The line is purely silent on the other end. I better commit this moment to memory, because this is the first and probably only time I’ll hear my mother rendered speechless. It takes a good thirty seconds before I hear her get her bearings and huff into the line.

“I demand that you come home at once, Cierra Joy Rivers. A young woman like yourself shouldn’t be on her own with a young man. It’s not proper.”

“And it’s not proper for you to tell me what to do. I’m twenty four years old, for fuck’s sake. I’ve been paying my bills, buying groceries, keeping a clean house, and looking after myself ever since I was nineteen. If you want me to come home, fine. I will. When I’m finished with this trip, I will. But this is the first goddamn time I’ve left the northwoods in six years, and I’m not about to come home with my tail tucked between my legs. As for being by myself with Tucker, it’s none of your fucking business,” I snap, crushing the rest of my cigarette in the truck’s ashtray before flicking the butt out of the window.

Seeing a gas station on the side of the interstate, Tucker makes a beeline for it. He slams the truck into park, glancing over at me before slipping out of the driver’s seat and striding inside the store, trying to avoid the rain. I don’t blame him for trying to disappear. It’s probably awkward as hell to listen to.

“When you come back pregnant, then it is my business,” she growls.

“Are you shitting me? It’s not like that. Tucker’s a friend, not my boyfriend. He doesn’t like me like that. And even if he did, he’d make a wonderful partner. He’s the nicest guy I’ve ever met. He’s gonna make some woman very happy one day. You’d be lucky to meet him.”

“Oh please, Cierra. Save a little face and cut the bullshit. It’s obvious that you have feelings for him. Don’t even try to deny it.”

I can feel the heat slowly spread to my face and to the tips of my ears. How in the hell does she do that?

I grab another cigarette out of my pack and take a drag. “Once again, it’s none of your business.”

Tucker’s almost to the front of the line in the gas station. It looks like he’s grabbed a couple of Powerades and a bag of Cheetos. A young blonde woman smiles at him from behind the counter, giving him elevator eyes.

If I was beside him in line, I’d take off my leg and smack her with it.

“Fine. It is none of my business. But what happens when he finds out the truth?”

The smug satisfaction that oozes over the line is almost sickening.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I reply cooly.

“Sure you do. I’m talking about the fact that--”

“Bye mother. I’ll see you when I get back.”

With that, I hang up the phone.

Tucker flings open the door, climbing up into the driver’s seat and dumping the wet plastic bag in my lap. Inside, there’s two Powerades, Cheetos, and a pack of Camels. He snags the red Powerade out of the bag and cracks the top off, taking a long swig.

“Figured you could use some more smokes after that conversation. By the way, I’m up to twenty. You’re at fifteen,” he mumbles nonchalantly, like Ma wasn’t just talking shit about him.

“Thank you. That semi didn’t count.”

“Yes it did. It was black.”

“No it wasn’t. The cab was black, but the trailer was white.”

He throws his hands up in the air before putting the truck in reverse and exiting out of the parking lot. We’re on the interstate before he speaks again.

“Sorry for ducking out like that. It sounded like a talk I shouldn’t have been listening to.”

Sighing, I open up the blue Powerade and take a drink. The ice cold liquid hits my stomach with a satisfying intensity. “It’s not your fault. She’s normally not that rude. Or bitchy.”

“She’s watching out for you. I don’t blame her.”

“Yeah, but it doesn’t give her the right to treat me like I’m four.”

“Okay, but she’s worried about you. If I had a daughter and found out she went halfway across the country with some strange dude, I’d probably be a little upset too.”

“You should have thought about that before you kidnapped me.”

“I did.”

“Obviously you don’t feel that bad about it.”

“Not in the slightest.”

The rain continues pouring, drenching the blacktop as we make our way towards Columbus. Overhead, the sky is a dull grey color, casting a gloomy aura around the entire morning. Most of the cars on the interstate slog through huge puddles. A couple times, I feel like the truck is about to hydroplane. Fortunately, it doesn’t.

Our clothes are still uncomfortably damp from running through the rain this morning on our way out of the hotel. Leaning over, I crank the heat up again, feeling as my clothes shift against my skin. My shorts are still especially damp. I’m not quite sure why. Come to think of it, the cab smells a little bit like blood. Like a load of bricks, it hits me.


“Hey Tuck, how long until we get to Columbus?”

“‘Bout another twenty minutes yet. Why?”

Googling the nearest Walmart, I find the address and plunk it into the maps section of my phone. I yank the aux cord out of Tucker’s phone, popping it into mine instead. It’s about another fifteen miles until we get there.

“Cj, what’s wrong? You’re bright red.”

If he only knew.

Lighting up another cigarette, I take a drag and exhale, watching the smoke roll into the cab.

“I need you to stop by the nearest Walmart.”


“Because I need a favor from you.”

“Okay. Am I supposed to read your mind? What is it?”

“I need you to pick up tampons. And pads.”


He squirms in his seat, looking uncomfortable. Scratching the back of his neck, he looks over at me. His eyes are a deep chocolate brown today, almost as dark as his beard and hair. I watch as his cheeks grow pink against his olive skin. Running a hand through his beard, he sighs before replacing it on the steering wheel.

“So… where would they be in Walmart?”

“Over by the personal care stuff. Like shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, that sort of shit. They should be along a back wall.”


We ride in silence the rest of the way to Walmart, each of us wrapped in our own worlds. In mine, I’m beyond fucking mortified. I should have known it was coming, but I didn’t think it would be this soon. Mine are horrible. Twelve days long, super heavy, and they make me bitchier than I already am. Tuck’s in for a world of fun.

He parks the truck, grabbing his wallet off the dash and slipping out of the driver’s seat. He leaves the truck running, jogging towards the store. I’m not gonna complain. I hate to see him go, but I love to watch him leave. His ass looks fantastic in the Wranglers he’s wearing today. I’d kill to see him in baseball pants.

Not even five minutes later, my phone starts blasting “Rhinestone Cowboy” at top volume, scaring the shit out of me and causing me to knock my head against the window. With my legs crossed to prevent the spread of blood, it’s a miracle I didn’t piss myself.



Tucker’s husky voice fills the other end of line. If this wasn’t such a shitty situation, I just might be a little turned on by his deep voice. But it’s not gonna be today.

“What’s up?”

“So… what kind do I get? There’s so many.”

“Okay. For the tampons, you’re going to look for a white, purple, and black box. They should say ‘Kotex.’ The size is super plus.”

It’s another minute before I hear him pick up a box off of a shelf.

“Super plus? You’re frickin’ tiny. Why do you need super plus?”

I pinch the bridge of my nose and close my eyes, counting to ten rapidly in my head. I should have just gone in there myself and faced the humiliation.

“My stature doesn’t relate to the size of my vagina in any way. I get super plus because they’re more absorbent and last longer. Moving on. For pads, you’re gonna look for a black box with a moon on it. It should say ‘All Nighter.’ Grab a box of those please.”

He locates them, and I can hear him throw them into either a basket or a cart.

“Question for ya, woman. Don’t get mad.”

“What’s that?”

“What size shorts do you wear?”

“Small to a medium.”

“Okay. See you in a bit.”

With that, he hangs up the phone. There’s no point in worrying about Tucker, so I play around on my phone for a bit, flipping through my Facebook feed. It’s then that I remember I should check the location and make sure that it’s off, even if I don’t give a shit about anyone knowing where I am. He finally arrives about twenty minutes later, carrying a few different bags. Opening up the back door and launching the bags inside, he slams it shut and dives into the driver’s seat. He shakes his hair out, sending droplets of water everywhere. I hear something drop and roll onto the floor in the backseat.

“What did you all get?”

“You’ll see in a little bit,” he replies cheerily.

“Why are you in such a good mood?”

“Just am.”
“Alrighty then.”

Backing out of the parking lot, he throws his phone over to me. I catch it, staring at him with a confused look on my face. Gazing back at me, he grins and pulls his shirt out from his chest.

“I need you to book a hotel. It’s supposed to thunderstorm all day, so we can’t really do anything of importance. Make sure it’s got free wifi and continental breakfast please.”

“I’ll think about it.”

I eventually book a room at a Best Western on the south end of the city. Thankfully, there’s two queen beds. I don’t mind sleeping in the same bed as Tuck, but he’s unfortunately a kicker and a cover hog. He’ll deny it, but I woke up the one night we shared a bed without any blankets, freezing my ass off. My nipples were hard enough to cut glass. Ever since then, I try to book rooms with two beds.

When we finally lug all of our stuff up the stairs of the hotel, we’re both wringing wet and shivering. A gigantic puddle of water pools by the door of our room from tramping back and forth so much. It’s about one thirty in the afternoon, and thunder booms overhead. Tuck grabs a pair of sweatpants, t-shirt, and a towel from his suitcase before heading towards the bathroom. I take the opportunity to peel off all of my clothes and throw them in an empty plastic bag. The only problem I run into is not having a towel.

Wheeling towards the bathroom, I knock hesitantly on the door.


“I need a towel.”

“One second.”

Opening the door, Tucker steps out with a towel before realizing I’m in my birthday suit. In retrospect, I should have grabbed a blanket off of the bed and covered up, but they say that hindsight’s twenty twenty.

“Oh my God. I’m so sor--”

Flinging the towel at me, it sails over my head and lands in the puddle over by the door. Tucker stumbles back into the bathroom and slams the door shut. I hear the faucet turn on and him mumbling under his breath.

Impatiently knocking on the door again, I cross my arms over my breasts and wait for him to open it. Instead, he replies through the heavy door.


“I need another towel. The one you threw at me landed in the puddle by the door.”

I hear him sigh on the other side. This time, he opens the door a crack, extending his arm out with a long white towel. Grabbing it out of his grasp, I mutter a quick thank you and retreat back into the room. Once I’m mostly dry, I grab my hoodie and sweatpants out of a duffle bag on the bead. Ripping open the box of tampons, I snag one and head towards the bathroom again.


“Jesus woman. What do you want?”

“Well, for one, I need to get dressed. For another thing, I need to rectify the crimson tide situation,” I snap, clutching the towel tighter around my chest.


Opening the door, he avoids my eyes and side steps around me, striding back into the hotel room. Rolling my eyes, I proceed into the bathroom. When I have everything taken care of with Aunt Flo and my clothes back on, I follow Tucker.

I find him already on one of the beds, flipping through channels on the TV. I’m surprised the storm hasn’t knocked the electricity out. Locking my chair, I launch myself onto the bed next to him and almost knock him off of it. Scowling, he readjusts and smacks me in the head with a nearby pillow before flipping through the channels again. Clearing his throat, he picks a bulging plastic bag off of the floor and tosses it over to me.

“What’s this?”

“Open it and find out.”

Inside, there’s a couple different DVD movies from the $5 bin at Walmart, including The Sandlot, The Goonies, Mrs. Doubtfire, Dirty Dancing, and The Princess Bride. There’s also chocolate covered pretzels, Buncha Crunch, a couple Monsters, and a box of popcorn.

“Jesus. You went all out.”

He shrugs, grabbing a Monster and popping the top open. “I figured it’d be better than watching crappy cable.”

Dumping the contents of the bag onto the bed between us, I select The Goonies before climbing back into my chair and meandering towards the DVD player. I push the DVD in and make my way back towards the bed. When I finally settle back into my spot, Tucker’s got another bag in his lap, and his face is slightly red.


“Is today Christmas or what?”

“No, that bag’s full of stuff you actually need. I just pulled the tampons and pads out of it.”

Shooting him a puzzled look, I root around in the bag before my hand hooks on something. Pulling it out, I see that it’s a lacy, red thong. Rifling through the bag, there’s a bunch of them in all different colors, and even a couple of bras that match.

“Sorry. I had to guess on size,” he mutters, still avoiding eye contact with me.

“Is this your way of subtly saying you stare at my ass?”

“What? No! I just--” he groans, rubbing his forehead with the palm of his hand.

I’ve never had a man buy me panties and bras before, so it’s pretty safe to say that I’m at a loss for words. Usually, I have a smart ass remark to come back with, but the fact that Tuck’s flustered is kinda cute. It doesn’t deserve a full on bitchy comment.

“Well, thank you, but these are too nice to wear while I’m on the rag.”

“I thought that’s what all women wore regardless.”

“No. There’s different types of panties to wear for different occasions.”

Shuddering, he takes another drink from his Monster can. “Please don’t say that.”

“What? Occasions?”

“No… panties. It’s just a horrible word.”

I smack him with the thong that’s still in my hand before setting it back in the bag and reaching for the chocolate pretzels. “You’re thirty years old, and you don’t like hearing the word panties? Jesus Christ, are you actually twelve? Most men jump at the chance to rip them off.”

“I’m not like most men.”

“Obviously.” Another thought occurs to me. “Are you actually gay, and you’re badly trying to cover it up?”

“No. I’m not. I was just taught to treat women with respect.”

“And that includes buying them underwear? Usually that’s something that happens after the third date.”

Hitting the play button on the movie, he looks over at me, eyes sparkling. “I just noticed that you weren’t wearing any. Like, ever.”

“So you were staring at my ass.”

“Yes. Glancing is a better word for it.”

I snort, popping a pretzel in my mouth. “No. You were staring.”

“It’s kind of hard not to notice. Especially with the nipple piercings. Accidentally running into you twenty minutes ago just confirmed it.”

“Don’t look and you don’t have to worry about it.”

“Wear a bra and underwear and it wouldn’t be so obvious.”

The rest of the afternoon is spent watching movies and cracking jokes back and forth. Around eight, we order a pizza and lounge around for the rest of the night, a couple of cigarette breaks in between. Winding down, it’s about ten at night before I crawl back into my wheelchair and roll over to my bed, climbing in and pulling the covers up to my chin.

“Goodnight Tucker.”

“Night Cj.”

He shuts off the lights, and in the moonlight that creeps into the room, I watch as he turns over, his back to me. Laying on mine, I stare up at the ceiling with an arm under my head, legs out straight in front of me. The last thought I have before I drift off to sleep is one of Tucker, holding me in his arms.


Submitted: July 09, 2018

© Copyright 2023 A. R. Currson. All rights reserved.


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