We stopped to get a soda and a snack at a convenience store. This is always a delight because we don’t do soda or junk food at the house—only on road trips. Layce is the financial person in our group meaning she does the debit machine. I only use cash because I am terrified of foreign debit machines—foreign meaning ones I haven’t used before. And Emma doesn’t have a debit card yet.
The clerk asked if we wanted a bag.
“No, thanks, we’re fine,” Layce said.
I sighed and stuck my hands in my pockets. How much longer was I going to keep silent? Something was going to snap.
Layce glanced over at me. I looked away. This was going to take courage.
We gathered up our purchases and got in the car. I had a crisis in confidence but I had to speak my mind. “We have to have a talk,” I said. I took a deep breath. “I just can’t take it anymore.” Now I had Emma’s attention. She leaned in from the back seat.
“What’s wrong?” Layce asked. She looked over at Emma who stared back.
I studied them. I felt sad, but it had to be done. I shook my head. “My needs aren’t being met and I can’t keep living like this.”
“Are you leaving us?” Emma said. She looked a little panicked.
“No! Of course not. But things have got to change.”
“What have I done?” Layce asked. Her hands gripped the steering wheel. She hadn’t started the car yet. I didn’t want her driving while we were having a crisis.
“We need the bag. The clerk always asks if you want a bag and you always say no. You’re all cavalier like we don’t need a bag, we’re big, strong people who don’t need bags. Well, we need the bag. We have all these wrappers and empty soda bottles and nowhere to put them because you are always being all nah, we don’t need no stinkin’ bag. Bags are for pussies.” I paused for dramatic effect. “We need the bag.”
They stared at me. Christ-on-bike, it wasn’t like I was asking for the Second Coming. I just wanted a bag to put the trash in. “I just can’t handle having unrestrained trash in the car. It that too much to ask? I need containment.”
“Okay,” they said in tandem. Emma leapt out of the car.
“Where are you going?” I yelled.
“To get a bag,” she said.
“You scared me,” Layce said. “I thought it was something really big.”
“It is big.”
“Well, of course, it’s big. I mean unrestrained trash is a serious global concern and I’m glad you brought it to our attention as a family.”
Emma got back in the car. “I got two. One for now and a back-up bag in case of emergency like the store is out of bags or something.”
“Good thinking.” I opened my dark chocolate Milky Way and put the wrapper in the bag. I sighed happily. It was good thing to know when to say when—to air your grievances and give solace to your soul.
“We can go now,” I said, beatifically. I leaned back and smiled the smile of the victorious. It was the little things. They did care and I loved them for it. With a family like this I could conquer my world.
A sweet & steamy short story
Saxon Bennett and Layce Gardner