On the bus to her mother’s funeral, Maizie she forgot to bring money. No point to turn back now. Already Ohio. Maizie has no credit and no friends to text for cash.
Her mother, turns out, died from alcohol poisoning. No surprise, Maizie thought when Stepfather Dave called her with the news, said he’d pay for the bus ticket and all she had to do was pick it up. Said he’d be waiting for her at the station.
Maizie only met Stepfather Dave the one time. She was 18 and succulent. He offered her a coke and Maizie could swear he slipped something in it. She told him she wasn’t thirsty.
The bus is rolling through Ohio and it all seems postcard to her now. Ten years the hell away from here, and it’s been nothing but server jobs, a beaty boyfriend or two, and yeah, succulent isn’t her anymore.
The man sitting next to her is sweaty and suited and eating a sandwich. Ham with lettuce from the looks of it. Still warm from the smell of it. He must have picked it up at the rest stop ten miles back. Maizie thinks about her wallet, sitting on her nightstand, her last 200 bucks and how Jack, the guy she left in her apartment, probably found the cash and used it to drink a hole into the universe.
The sandwich man finishes, smacks his oily lips and wipes them with his sleeve. Maizie feels the hole in her stomach widening like the Ohio countryside.
An hour later, the bus pulls into the last stop, her stop. The screech of brakes. The bus lowering into a hiss. The driver gets out and starts pulling suitcases out of the bus belly.
Maizie sees Stepfather Dave waiting. Leaned up against the dead river green of his station wagon. He is scanning the people getting off the bus, one by one. His face goes off like a light bulb about to blow when he sees her, waves her over.
She gets in the car. The suitcase in front of her scrunching up her legs. Stepfather Dave says, “you look good. Even if the city did pudge you up a touch, but I like it.” She hopes he doesn’t hear the rumble of her stomach, hopes the engine starting up will hide it.
He offers her an coke, this time with the lid still on. She takes it and unscrews it. When he digs in his pocket and says, “all’s I got is this chocolate bar.” His eyes go from the road to her thighs and back again. She looks straight ahead, at the pure empty of everything around them, in front of them, and when he unwraps the candy bar with a single expert motion, she takes it.