Anywhere But Here: Part 2

The "Hot Now" sign made her car turn of its own accord, the warm scent giving her a sense of direction after half an hour of aimless circles. She parked the car and shut her door gently so as not to disturb the precarious piles filling her backseat. Her body felt naked in the exposed air after hours in the car. She sighed and stalked towards the door with her shoulders hunched, tugging her Yankees cap lower on her head. A bell rang as she opened the door, and the sudden stark whiteness of the interior made her squint.

Her sense of smell adjusted more quickly than her eyesight. A sugary onslaught of baking donuts immediately filled her nostrils, affirming that she had made the right decision as she shuffled further into the store. Saliva filled her mouth, and a painful grumbling in her stomach announced itself. Maxi could already taste the chocolate frosting that would soon be melting on her tongue. She paused on her way to the counter, staring as the doughy perfection rolled through the glazer displayed through a large window. The sugary rings circled through the machine, spinning and spinning with nowhere to go.

“Welcome to Krispy Kreme!” The friendly voice snapped her out of her reverie. She looked at the pale face behind the counter. The teenager at the register had a perky ponytail and bright teeth, and she was grinning like serving donuts at 9 o’clock on a Thursday night was her life’s passion. Maxi looked around for a more apathetic server, hoping for a person who seemed less eager to chat. All she saw was a surly looking boy working the drive-thru window, so she sighed and walked towards the counter.

“What can I get you tonight?” Ponytail Girl didn't blink as she smiled at Maxi from behind the counter.

“Um,” she glanced at the donuts in the display window, double-checking to see if she wanted anything besides her usual. She didn’t. “I’ll take a half dozen. Three glazed and three chocolate frosted.”

Somehow the girl’s grin spread even wider. “You’re in luck! I have both of those fresh out of the oven.” Her face became eager; she clearly expected Maxi to respond to this revelation.

“Oh, great. Thanks.” Maxi attempted to smile, but she felt her face turn into more of a grimace.

“No problem!” The server clicked buttons on the register, bringing Maxi’s total up on the screen. “I’ll go grab those for you.” Maxi nodded, reaching into her back pocket for cash she had stowed earlier in the day. She set the money down, mentally calculating how much she had left in her checking account minus the donut funds. She was pretty sure it was somewhere around $17. Great.

Ponytail Girl came swinging back in, holding the sugar fix in her hands. She held the box out towards Maxi. “Here you go!”

Maxi reached for the box and winced as a soreness in her ribs tugged at her right side. Her left hand flew to the ache, as if covering the bruise she’d been given two days ago could somehow stop it from hurting or keep anyone from finding out about it. She closed her eyes to try to calm the flare. It had stopped hurting to breathe a couple of hours earlier, but the stretch had reinstated a throbbing sensation with the intake of air. The aching brought her back to the moment of impact, to his final leap over the line of unforgivable. Sure, he’d shoved her before, pushed her away a little too hard when he wasn't in the mood, but that night was different. He’d never looked at her that way before, with such distance and cruelty. She could still feel the slam of his fist against her body, the crumple of her body onto the floor, her legs giving out at the pain.

She hated herself for the make-up sex she’d allowed herself to be talked into, for letting him apologize the same way he did when he left the milk out or the toilet seat up. The unclean cheapness of his body on top of her hurt almost more than the punch. She stared at herself in the mirror after he left the next morning, studying the purple bulge beneath her breast. She’d poked and prodded the wound. She looked at her skin until her eyes blurred, glancing up as fat tears formed on her face. The dead expression looking back at her made something inside of her crumple. She reached for her phone to call her mom before she could think too hard about it. The lie about not having enough money to stay in the city anymore had formed easily because a layer of truth stuck to it, and with her mom’s blessing, she stuffed her car to the brim and took off before he even got home from work.

The pain subsided and her breathing settled as the memories slipped away, fading into background noise.

“Are you okay?” Ponytail girl was still holding the donuts out to her, an expression of confusion and concern coloring her face.

Maxi took her donuts and went home.  

Feature photo by Jackie Hadel/ VIA Life Of Pix