You remember Lois -- everyone does. She used to take me and Granddad to lunch at that old country type diner off the interstate in Vandalia, picking us up in that big red Pontiac of hers. Granddad would sit in the front with her, fidgeting with the temperature knob until she swatted his hand aside. I’d bob alone like a little bottle in that big sea of a backseat, hands ordered into pockets to slow my campaign against the seat’s stitching.
From the back window, familiar streets curved and glittered into fantasy kingdoms, minarets and parapets, treehouses and shacks striding along with the confidence of dinosaurs. Pterodactyls hobnobbed with dragons atop the Pizza Hut. Knights and giants toasted each other with their Slurpees in front of the 7-11. Granddad would make some comment about how the azaleas were coming along nicely, while Lois would repeat some story about her granddaughter’s babysitter’s dentist going to Virginia Beach. If I looked in the rearview mirror, Lois would lower her sunglasses just enough to give me a wink.
At the diner, Granddad told me I couldn’t have a slice of cherry pie, but Lois smiled at the waitress and told her to bring me one, with a scoop of ice cream on top.
When Lois said she had to leave, I sat on my knees and stripped grass from the dirt and wouldn’t look up at her. Her nails -- the same red as her Pontiac -- glittered against my cheek. “Just between us,” she said.
I watched her Pontiac make its slow patient climb into the clouds. Her taillights winked into fireflies. I stayed there, out beyond the porch, long past my bedtime, and no one -- not even Granddad -- came out to yell at me.
Rick Hollon (they/them or fey/fem) is a nonbinary queer author, editor, and parent from the American Midwest. Feir work has appeared or is forthcoming in several small-press publications, including Prismatica, perhappened, and (mac)ro(mic). Find them on Twitter @SailorTheia.