Point of Retreat

Page 18


Where are you going to pick up textbooks? Detroit?
I’m pretty sure I know which bookstore she’s going to in Detroit. I know it’s a long shot but I’m hoping I can trap her into riding with me instead of taking her own car. She replies almost immediately.
Yes. What time will Kel be home?
She’s so hard to crack. I hate her short responses.
I’m going to Detroit to pick them up later. Why don’t you just ride with me? I can take you to get your book.
This could be good. Having the long drive to talk things over might really give me a chance to convince her that things need to go back to the way they were.
I don’t think that’s a good idea. I’m sorry.
Or not. Why does she have to be so damn difficult? I throw my phone on the couch and don’t even bother with texting her back. I walk to the window and pathetically stare at her house again. At first, I thought she would get over this pretty fast, but it's been days. I hate the fact that her need for space is stronger than her need for me. I really need her to go to Detroit with me today.
I can’t believe I’m doing this. As I’m crossing the street, I double check to make sure she isn't peeking out the window. She’ll be so pissed if she catches me doing this. I quickly open her car door and push the lever to pop the hood. I have to work fast. I decide the best way to disable her jeep is to disconnect the battery. It’s probably the most obvious, but she would never notice considering her lack of mechanical knowledge. As soon as I succeed with my goal I glance toward her window again, then make a mad dash back home. When I shut the door behind me, I almost regret what I just did. Almost.
I wait for her to come out of her house that afternoon before I leave. I watch as she attempts to crank her vehicle, but the car doesn't start. Obviously. She hits the steering wheel out of frustration and swings open her car door. This is my opportunity. I grab my things and head out the front door to my car, pretending not to notice her. When I back up and pull onto the street, she has her hood up. I stop in front of her driveway and roll down my window.
“What’s wrong? Car won’t start?”
She peers around the front of the hood and shakes her head. I pull my car over and get out to take a look. She steps aside and allows me by without speaking. I fidget with a few wires here and there and pretend to try to crank her car a couple of times. The whole time, she’s just silently standing back.
“Looks like your battery is shot,” I lie. “If you want, I can pick a new one up for you while I’m in Detroit. Or…you could just ride with me and I’ll take you to get your book.” I smile at her, hoping she’ll cave.
She looks back at her house, then at me. She looks torn. “No, I’ll just ask Eddie. I don’t think she has plans today.”
This isn’t what I need her to say. This isn’t going how I had planned. Play it cool, Will.
“I’m just offering you a ride. We both need to go to Detroit anyway. It’s ridiculous to get Eddie involved just because you don’t want to talk to me right now.” I use the authoritative tone I’ve perfected on her. It usually works.
She hesitates.
"Lake, you can carve pumpkins the whole trip. Whatever you need. Just get in the car," I say.
She scowls at me and then turns and grabs her purse out of the jeep. “Fine. But don’t think this means anything.” She walks down the driveway and toward my car.
I’m glad she’s in front of me, because I can’t hide my excitement as I punch at the air with my fists. An entire day together is exactly what we need.
As soon as we pull away, she turns The Avett Brothers up on the car stereo; her way of letting me know she's carving pumpkins. The first few miles to Detroit are awkward. I keep wanting to bring everything up, but I don’t know how. Kel and Caulder will be with us on the way home, so I know if I want to lay it all out there, I have to do it now.
I reach over and turn the volume down. She’s got her foot propped up on the dash and she’s staring out the window in an attempt to avoid confrontation like she always does. When she notices I’ve turned down the volume, she glances at me and sees me staring at her, then returns her attention back out the window. “Don’t, Will. I told you…we need time. I don’t want to talk about it.”
She is so damn frustrating. I sigh and shake my head, feeling another round of defeat coming on. "Could you at least give me an estimate of how long you'll be carving pumpkins? It'd be nice to know how long I have to suffer," I say. I don't try and mask my aggravation. This space thing is really starting to annoy me. I can tell by her physical reaction that I said the absolute wrong thing again.
"I knew this was a bad idea," she mumbles.
My hands grip the steering wheel even tighter. You would think after a year I would have found a way to get through to her, or to manipulate her in some way. She’s almost impenetrable. I have to remind myself that her indomitable will is one of the reasons I fell in love with her in the first place.
Neither of us says another word during the remainder of the drive. It doesn't help that neither of us turns the radio back up, either. The entire trip is incredibly awkward as I try my best to search for the right thing to say and she tries her best to pretend I don’t exist. As soon as we arrive at the bookstore in Detroit and I pull into a parking spot, she swings open the car door and runs inside. I’d like to think she’s running from the cold, but I know she’s running from me. From confrontation.
While she’s inside, I get a text from my grandfather informing me that my grandmother is cooking us dinner. His text ended with the word “roast,” preceded by a hashtag.
"Great," I mutter to myself. I know Lake has no intentions of spending the evening with my grandparents. As soon as I text my grandfather letting him know we’re almost there, she returns to the car.
“They’re cooking dinner for us. We won't stay long,” I say.
She sighs. “How convenient. Well, then take me to get a new battery first so we can get it over with.”
I don’t respond as I pull out of the bookstore and head toward my grandparent’s house. She’s been to their house a couple of times before, so she knows when we get closer that I have no intentions of stopping at the store.
“You've passed like three stores that sell batteries," she says. "We need to get one now in case it's too late on our way back."
“You don’t need a battery. Your battery is fine,” I say.
I avoid looking over at her but I can see her watching me, waiting for more explanation.
I don’t immediately respond. I flick the blinker on and turn onto my grandparent’s street. When I pull into their driveway, I turn the car off and tell her the truth. What harm could it do at this point?
“I unhooked your battery cable before you tried to leave today.” I don’t wait for her reaction as I get out of the car and slam the door. I’m not sure why I slam the car door. I’m not mad at her, I’m just frustrated. Frustrated that she doubts me after all this time.
“You what!?” she yells. When she gets out of the car, she slams her door intentionally.
I keep walking, shielding the wind and snow with my jacket until I reach the front door. She rushes after me. I almost walk inside without knocking but remember how it feels, so I knock.
“I said I unhooked your battery cable. How else was I going to convince you to ride with me?”
"That's real mature, Will." She huddles closer to the front door, further away from the wind. I hear footsteps nearing the entryway from inside when she turns to face me. She opens her mouth like she's about to say something else, then rolls her eyes and turns away. The front door swings open and my grandmother steps aside to let us in.
“Hi Sara,” Lake says with a fake smile as she hugs my grandmother.
My grandmother returns her hug and I walk in behind them.
“You two got here just in time. Kel and Caulder are setting the table,” she says. “Will, take both your jackets and go put them in the dryer to get the snow off so they won’t be so wet when you leave.”
My grandmother walks back toward the kitchen and I remove my jacket and head to the laundry room without offering to take Lake’s. I smile when I hear her stomping angrily after me. Being the nice guy has obviously not helped my case at all, so I guess I’ll just start being the jerk. I throw my jacket into the dryer and step aside so she can do the same. After she shoves her jacket inside, she slams the dryer door shut and turns it on. She spins around to exit the laundry room but I'm blocking her way. She shoots me a dirty look and tries to ease passed me, but I don’t budge. She steps back and folds her arms across her chest and looks away, giving me the silent treatment. She’s going to stand here until I move out of her way. I’m going to stand here until she talks to me. I guess we'll be here all night.
She tightens her ponytail and leans against the dryer, crossing her legs at the ankles. I lean against the laundry room door and stand in the same position as I stare her down, waiting for something. I'm not sure what it is I'm trying to get out of her right now; I just want her to talk to me.
She wipes snow off the shoulder of her shirt. She's wearing the Avett shirt I bought her at the concert we went to no less than a month ago. We had the best time that night; I never would have imagined then that we would be in the predicament we’re in right now.
I finally give in and speak first. "You know, for someone giving me the silent treatment like a five-year-old, you sure are quick to accuse me of being immature."
She cocks her eyebrows at me and laughs. "Seriously? You have me trapped in a laundry room, Will! Who's being immature?"
She tries to move past me again, but I continue to block her way. She's flush against me now as she pathetically tries to shove against my chest to get by. I have to fight the urge to wrap my arms around her. We're practically face to face when she finally gives up again and stops pushing me. She's inches from me now, staring at the floor, waiting for me to get out of her way. She may have her doubts about my feelings for her, but there is no way she can doubt the sexual tension between us. I take her chin in my hand and gently pull her face toward mine.
“Lake,” I whisper. “I’m not sorry about what I did to your car. I’m desperate. I’d do anything at this point just to be with you. I miss you.”
She looks away so I bring my other hand to her face and force her to look me in the eyes. She tries to pull my hands away but I refuse to let go. The tension between us increases as we hold each other's stare. I can tell she wants to hate me so bad right now, but she loves me too much. There’s a struggle of emotion in her eyes. She can't decide whether or not she wants to punch me or kiss me.
I take advantage of her moment of weakness and slowly lean in and touch my lips to hers. She presses her hands against my chest and half-heartedly tries to push me away, but she doesn’t pull her mouth away from mine. Rather than honor her request for ‘space,’ I lean into her even further and part her lips with mine. Her hands weaken their pressure against my chest as her stubbornness finally caves and she lets me kiss her.