When V cannot find any answers to her questions about S, she decides leave the hotel and get out of town. Meanwhile, S still found a way to get in touch with E, just as she was leaving the little blue house.
Just then, a little white car came to an abrupt halt just beyond where she stood at the sidewalk, and this just before she was turning to head back to the city. When she saw the car stop like that, her heart pounded even harder. Shit. She found me first. Her body wanted to run away, and she almost did but, number one, she was going to get V back and, number two, she wasn’t going to let S get away without a fight. So she balled up her fists and started toward the car, rolling her sleeves up. But, as she did, she saw V get out of the driver side.
She was taken aback and extremely turned upside down. “V?! What the fuck?!”
V had almost not even got out her car. She almost even kept going, but she couldn’t not give E the chance, especially since she was here and had happened upon her. It was chance.
“E? I thought you went east.”
“What the fuck are you doing here? I thought you were with S?? And did you fucking follow me? How did you know where I was?” All the distrust flooded back into E’s mind and crowded out the sweet hope that had briefly sat there.
V’s face fell. “Oh. No, I barely missed S. She came banging on the hotel door last night. I didn’t want to wait around to see what other shady characters might show up, so I left. And I thought you went the other way from the hotel? I thought I was going the opposite way–I wanted to give you space.”
E wasn’t sure what she believed, but her furrowed brow relaxed. If she’d known that V was okay, and that this car was V, she would have just ran into that forest. But, reviewing that thought, now, she was almost glad… almost glad that she didn’t.
“Look. I don’t know what to do, okay? But this…. This just,…” E didn’t know how to finish her thought.
V was silent.
“This just can’t… it can’t fucking happen, okay? It just fucking can’t.” E looked mad, but her eyes were closed most of the while that she said it. Then she looked at V, finally, and softened.
“I… I just, I need you to know…” But she stopped and sucked in her lips and faced the trees for a moment, “Nevermind. Nevermind.”
“What is it?”
“That! Okay, that. Stop doing it. It…”
E held her hands in the air.
“Okay. Well, I’m going to Alabama. If you want to come, you can. Otherwise, S is in jail, so you probably won’t see her… I doubt she was alone though, the way it was all pulled off. Just be careful, okay?”
“Fuck!” E said, “That dumb bitch. She called me up like she had you!”
V smiled. That was the moment she knew E meant to go back for her… to get her out of S’s hands. Maybe she does still love me? No, no, but she cares. She still cares.
“I… look, I want to, I just. I ca—I don’t know if I can. Okay? I just don’t know.”
“That’s fine. I won’t pressure you… but I have your duffel bag, if you want it.” V offered.
“If you are going to use it to bribe me to come with you, just fucking keep it.” But she saw V open the back door of her car and take the duffel bag out and offer it to her.
“It has your clothes and some things in it. And some snacks. You might want it if you plan on going off alone.”
E’s face softened again and replied quietly, “Thank you.” She only ever expected the worst, even from V, and yet here V always met her with everything she didn’t expect: kindness and freedom.
Gosh. I’m gonna miss this. It was the kindness she fought that she most needed, most wanted, most craved, but most ran from.
But this is how it always goes, isn’t it? The bondage of abuse makes you wary of freedom, even if you thirst for it. Once you’re out and you’re free, it’s always “now what? I feel lost” even as you take a breath for the first time again. Like being the frayed end of a rope.