Corinne often stopped at the café but this morning she was headed to the mountains in a hurry. She did not yet know exactly why but it felt urgent and wise. She giggled as she turned out of the neighborhood, tuned the radio to jazz, and silenced her phone—freedom! She had only a vague destination, a decadent use of time and gas. She fidgeted with her hair, too long already but she need not fuss with it, just push it behind her ears now he was gone.
As she turned off the highway and navigated the confusing exit, she had an epiphany—this was freedom from both clock and calendar, a day dedicated to her need for altitude, vistas, space, a ramble as far as she could get from the swollen dregs of suburbia. The music was not what Phil would have approved. In her head he whispered that she knew nothing about jazz, so who did she think she was anyway, listening to KVJZ?
“Philip, shut up. You’re dead, remember?”
The road mesmerized her and she wondered how long it would take the neighbors to miss her, how long before they missed Phil? Well, he had diminished her for the last time. Now his voice shrank to a murmur. She meant to erase ever sour conversation, edit out his face, words, and of course, his touch and smell. Smell? Scent, an animal odor, earthy and soiled, like his dirty work clothes and boots. Oh, his boots, how long had he worn the same cowboy boots? Damned stupid, Phil, trying to be a tough hombre. Well, here she was a long way from him and when or if she turned back to the house, she would fling open the windows, scrub the tub, and empty the garbage. Garbage had been his job although at the end he had struggled to heft the bags up into the bin. Well, she would have to do it herself. Cheap enough cost for freedom.
Now the road was very steep and the car seemed reluctant to go higher. Maybe, she thought, this altitude was too much for her old Chevy. Well, she’d already ordered a new one. One more thing about which she need not take Phil’s advice.