Anita Mechler: The Red Van

The red van outside the window has been there every Thursday for the last four weeks in a row. It is the color of sparkling candy apples and so clean as if it has just come back from a wash and wax. This is strange given that we are in the middle of winter. I’ve never seen someone at the wheel. Perhaps, it is a new neighbor. But the van doesn’t seem to match the salt-rotted Honda Accords littering the street.

My husband wishes that I wouldn’t obsess about it. I have a habit of watching Lifetime television for women and often think that everything is leading to an eventual kidnapping. I never really liked candy apples. They get gummy if they were left in the sun for any length of time. Once, I pulled out a tooth by biting into one of them. Blood gushed into my mouth and down my chin. I was at a house of some family friends. We were watching a horror movie that was rated R. My brother liked hanging out with the bad kids sometimes. Even the sight of caramel apples makes my stomach turn.

I think of all of those real life girls who had been kidnapped when I was growing up and how special they seemed compared to the rest of us. Remember when Baby Jessica fell into that well? All of those camera crews and news reporters with genuine looks of concern and strangers crying with relief when she was rescued.

Perhaps, the van is here to rescue me. I don’t tell Jim this. He would be hurt that I would wish to be taken from our life together. It’s domesticity from which I want to escape, not Jim. This is where we found ourselves.

Perhaps, the owner of the van is a traveling musician with a successful career, a family man who just needs a break from his ordinary life once in a while. We could travel together and see roadside attractions. We could pull up to the dark, cool watering holes in small towns and stare wistfully at each other under the warm neon lights.

Jim wants me to stop staring at it and I’ve learned enough not to tell him about its movements anymore. One Thursday, it is missing from its usual spot. It’s hard for me to describe the disappointment I feel as if I’ve been abandoned by my unknown adventure buddy.

And then I see it pull up, my heart jumping and the glass I’m holding shattering into the kitchen sink. The driver is a woman, wearing large dark glasses and bright red lipstick. She busies herself with fixing her hair, checking her lipstick and teeth in the side view mirror. She opens her door quickly and swings herself over the seat. She wears bright red cowboy boots that click on the sidewalk. Before I realize what is happening, she is ringing my doorbell.

To be continued…

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