Lara was driving the four–wheel utility car up the canyon toward Angeles Crest Mountains. She was daydreaming as well as driving; the car eased its way up the winding road at a comfortable speed. Lara was in the habit of thinking about a lot of things when she drove. Her friends criticized her for her lack of attention while driving. They said it was a good way to get into an accident. Lara thought differently, it helped calm her; it helped her deal with the aggressive drivers on the road. She found out that if she did day dream, she wouldn’t react with the same impatience and intolerance when she paid attention to the habits of an inconsiderate or inexperienced drivers. Living in the moment has its benefits, but Lara also found it has its limitations, at least for her.
Lara kept thinking about the fight she had with her boyfriend, Dean. As much as she loved him, she sometimes hated him. It wasn’t until last night that she realized Dean would probably never want to get married, and the fact that she may have wasted the last seven years of her life on the relationship really ate at her.
When Dean said, “Lara, sometimes you expect more than what can be given to you,” Lara lost the grip of her wine glass. The red wine spilled onto her new white blouse and skirt.
“Dean, what does that mean?” Lara responded while using water to clean out her wine spots, but it only made it worse.
“I mean, that sometimes you expect things from people that they can’t possibly give you. You expect too much.” then referring to the wine stain, “Maybe you should go to the bathroom and try to clean it off.”
“Don’t worry about the wine, Dean. I’d rather you’d worry about this conversation, because I am.
“You don’t want me to be honest with you?”
“Yes, I want you to be honest, but don’t attack me just because you think I want more out of life than you do.”
“Lara, I’m not attacking what you want out of life, I’m attacking your expectations of our relationship.”
“You mean a seven year relationship doesn’t require certain expectations?” Lara said, as the white spots on her blouse and skirt stood out like red polka dots.
“Lara, why should it?”
“Sorry, Dean, but I thought after seven years, we could start talking about marriage. I have a time clock you know.”
“I don’t see any reason why my life has to be lived on your time clock.” Dean replied, taking a sip of his wine.
“I see. So, my expectations aren’t the same as yours, and I shouldn’t raise the issue of my expectations because it makes you uncomfortable.”
Dean didn’t say anything. He got up from the table and unexpectedly kissed Lara on the lips and said, “Lara, I think we’d be wasting our future together. We both want different things. We’ve had more downs than ups in the last couple of years; maybe it’s time we walk in different directions.”
Lara couldn’t find the words to come out of her mouth. She had expectations, but none included breaking up for good. “Dean, I didn’t mean that we have to end the relationship. I just thought that we should express how we feel, about what we want from each other.”
“Lara, you’re on a time clock, you just said so. I’m not. I think it’s obvious we want different things, and I don’t want to waste your time with someone who’s not interested in marriage, at least not now.”
“Dean, please.” Dean walked away from the table, got his coat, and opened the door.
“Lara, I’m sorry.”
“Dean, Dean. Please.”
“Dean! Don’t leave me! I need you, Dean!” Lara shouted down the hallway of her apartment building, her words echoing down an empty hallway. Lara closed the door and dragged herself to the sofa. She sat down and the tears were resistant, until she felt the lump in her throat and she screamed.
Now the sky was blue, the sun shining brightly in front of her, her mind wallowing in day dreams. Lara slowly drove into one of the trails off the road into the mountainous area. Lara carried a backpack and a jacket. She remembered a brook or stream of water that she walked alongside once before, better not to get lost. She walked and walked looking for the brook of water, and when she found it, she followed the stream of water. The gurgling sound was very relaxing, the sun shining through the trees was warm and comforting. Lara hadn’t eaten since earlier in the day, and now she was getting very hungry. She sat down by the brook and opened her backpack. She took out a sandwich, a cup of fruit and some water. She made herself very comfortable and started to eat. Each bite from the sandwich worked its way through her blood system; she could feel herself getting stronger. The fruit was refreshing, stinging the sides of her palette, causing her face to twist in weird positions because of the tart taste of the plum. She downed one small bottle of water in seconds. She still had three small bottles in her backpack. Lara took out a handkerchief and wiped the perspiration from her face. She drifted off into a light sleep, aware of the sounds around her, her mind seeing visions moving in and out, from one image to another.
Lara woke up to the sound of the gurgling water. She looked at her watch, she slept for only an hour, and it was still early.
As she continued walking, she veered off the trail a bit and saw a high mountain she could climb. She felt very adventurous. Lara started the climb and the beads of sweat trickled down her chest, tickling her breasts. When she was halfway up the mountain, she lifted her leg to take the next step, but her foot slipped. She tried to hold on to the deep crevice above her, but the mountain wasn’t made of hard rock, rather, it was hard clay. The clay kept slipping in her hands and disintegrating as it fell to the ground. Gazing down over her shoulder, her pulse quickened, her legs trembling as she makes another futile attempt to move forward. Lara’s eyes gleamed with tears, envisioning herself sprawled on her back with a helicopter hovering over her. She embraced the mountain’s face and started to pray, arguing with the forces that she refused to fall, although unsure whether her cries would be heard. Her hand gripped a stronger crevice on the mountain’s face and she moved forward another step. Her leg shaking at every step, out of sync with her heartbeat that was beating so fast she could hear it outside of herself. When Lara tried to take another step, her foot slipped, and she cried. Oh God, please, please don’t let me fall. If I fall, how long will it be before anyone finds me? Who did I tell I was coming here, no one, that’s who, you stupid fool. Why didn’t I tell someone? Oh my God, oh my God. I refuse to be on one of those rescue reality shows. Not me! Not me! Because, I’m not going to fall. Damn it, I’m not going to die this way. Please give me the strength to climb, please dear God. Lara, hung on to the wall of the mountain like a fly, she kissed the mountain with her cheek. Lara, again tried to raise her foot to the next crevice, but her leg shook so much, she couldn’t quite place it in the crevice. Lara, looked to the other side and tried climbing in the other direction. She had better luck in sticking her foot on another crevice, and this time, she took a large leap forward and upward. She only had about thirty more feet to climb. Each foot, closer to the top but feeling farther away as she continued to climb, finally, with very small and cautious steps, Lara reached the top of the summit, straddling it with a welcome relief. She looked below, laughing with a gamut of emotions from anxiety to accomplishment to conquest. The other side of the mountain wasn’t as threatening. She slowly turned her leg over and started to climb down the mountain. But there were brush and small branches she could hang on to. She continued down until she reached the bottom. She cried and laughed, screaming out to no one that could appreciate what she just experienced.
Lara rushed back to her car and got in. When she started the car, her hand trembled so much, she dropped the keys. Regaining some composure, she finally started the car and drove home.
Lara opened the door to her apartment. Her answering machine was blinking with three messages. Lara went to her bar and opened a bottle of Scotch and poured herself a glass. She took a couple of sips, and then swallowed the whole thing. The phone rang.
“Hi, Lara it’s me, Dean. How are you?”
“Dean? What do you want?”
“You sound a little weird, are you okay?”
“What do you want, Dean?”
“I want to talk. I think we both said things the other night that, I for one, regret saying. I think we should talk.”
“I think everything that needed to be said was already said. I really don’t think we need to rehash it, Dean.”
“Lara, give me another chance. I was wrong, okay?”
“Wrong? You mean you’re ready to go to the next step?”
“Well, let’s talk about it. I mean, we’ve invested seven years in each other, I think we both deserve the chance to work this out.”
“Dean, you know what I want. I know what you want. And from what you just said, we’re still on opposite sides. You know, I learned something today. I learned that I’m okay if you’re not around. I’ve adjusted to the thought that I may be alone for the rest of my life. And that’s okay with me. For the first time, it’s okay that you’re not around for me. I don’t need you anymore, Dean.”
“But, Lara, I need you.”
“No. No, you don’t. You need the familiarity, you need the convenience, and you need to know I’m there for you whenever you need me. Unfortunately, I want more. You know what you haven’t said?”
“Dean, you haven’t said, ‘Lara, I want you back because I am in love with you. I made a mistake.”
“Is that what you want to hear?”
“Not anymore. Good-bye, Dean.”
“Lara, don’t hang up….”
Then dial tone. Lara refilled her glass and went to the bathroom. She turned on the hot water and filled her bath with bath salts and bubble bath. She took off her clothes and slithered into the hot water. She smiled and closed her eyes. No day dreams surfaced.
Written by Jo Ann Rodriquez
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