It had been a long drive; it would be even longer before he was done. Dylan scrambled for the napkins spread out over the passenger seat, remnants of a one-handedly consumed burger breakfast. He crumpled one between his fingers and dried his watering eyes.
He’d been driving for hours, cutting through the dark like a snake through grass. The headlights from the other cars were hurting his eyes; that was all.
Ahead, the black road stretched on forever and beside him the river lapped at the shore like a dog licking a wound, loud slaps and slurps alone separating the expanse of water from the expanse of asphalt in the dim night. The sound grated on Dylan’s frayed nerves, but his air conditioning had broken a year ago and it was too hot to drive with the windows up.
Dylan thought of Amanda, curled in their coffin-sized bed, sheets tangled around her ankles, sweat stained pillow under her brown hair. He pushed down harder on the accelerator, dragging the damp, scratchy napkin across his mouth.
When would she realize he was gone? Dylan had been doing so many extra shifts at the store that he’d taken to sleeping on the couch in the break room rather than going home. Amanda would assume he was there when she woke in a few hours to feed the baby. She’d sigh, shake her head, and pad across the one bedroom apartment to the microwave to heat up some formula. Joseph would start crying.
Dylan reached down and turned on the radio as loud as it would go, the crushed ball of napkin still trapped in his fist. Amanda would see that he was doing the right thing one day. The boy too. He wasn’t the father type. Joseph always cried when he held him; that was a sign. He never seemed to stop.
With the wind in his face, the saltwater in Dylan’s eyes stung more than ever. He lifted the napkin once again, but it was torn from his hand, sucked out the half-open window. He watched it disappear in his review mirror, waving down the road, shrinking until it became just another part of the indistinguishable black.
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