Rest Stop

By Otremba, Paul | The Virginia Quarterly Review, Spring 2006 | Go to article overview

Rest Stop


Otremba, Paul, The Virginia Quarterly Review


We stopped so she could ease out

the tension building in her calf muscle,

a knot from being cramped together

too long in the car. Our anger had become

just another thing we couldn't commit to,

and taken up by the heat, it joined

the sticky calm stretched between us.

Near where we parked, a young woman

rested a bottle against her neck,

the water mixing with sweat, and she pulled

her short hair into slick, limp peaks;

while probing their car's overheated engine,

the serpentine, tattooed arms of her boyfriend-

or husband-moved out and in. Her look said

they could have been going from Oklahoma

to "kiss my ass," passing the restaurant chains

and strip malls, but caught there in the parking lot,

a distraction for families vacationing.

When we heard their voices becoming clearly

a name, we knew it was a mother

and father calling, what we all fear. …

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