Margo took to the booth across the diner without asking. She slid in, her wet jeans rubbing against the blue leather. I considered sitting next to her. It would be nice to not look at her for a while, but she’d complain like in the car. Her hair was wet and her makeup smudged across her face. She wiped her hand across her face to look more insane.
“You’re getting me a drink,” she said, as she divided her hair on two sides. She twisted one half and squeezed the water onto the small white plate in front of her. She pulled the twisted half to the top of her head and wrapped it in a little bun.
“They don’t have a liquor license.”
“How do you know?”
“It was the first thing I checked for.Believe me. I didn’t see anything.” I pulled out a sugar packet and emptied it ontomy plate in front of me.
“That’s dumb,” she said, tying the bun.
The waitress came over. “Care for some towels?”
“Oh, yeah. That would be great, thanks.”Margo squeezed the other half of her hair onto her little appetizer plate. The waitress frowned and walked away and I just looked down at my sugar. Margo pulled the hair up and wrapped it into another bun. She looked like a polar bear. I liked her brown hair better. Her blond hair matched the stained tiles on the wall.
“That’s gross,” I said. She looked up at me confused and I nodded at the wet plate.
“It’s not like I’m not gonna’ eat off it.”
“It’s a plate. You eat off a plate.”
“It’s one of those little bread plates. I won’t eat the bread.”
“I know you won’t.”
“It’s a plate, Steven. Like it matters.”
“I know it doesn’t matter, jeez.” The sky lit up with lightening and I could see the dark horizon. There wasn’t much around us except a couple gas stations and sideways barns. I’m used to it. Margo doesn’t have much in her for farm life. She looked impatient the whole time up here. I just wanted her to know what she could be in for.
I licked my finger and dipped it in thesugar. I brought it up to my mouth and sucked on my finger.
“Don’t play my game, Margo.”
“I’m not playing your game. I don’t ever want to play your game. I don’t know why you make me out to be like that.”
“I know you’re not like that, trust me. I know you don’t want to do the things I want to do.”
“Just enjoy your sugar, Steven.”
The waitress brought over two mugs and two white towels slung across her shoulder. She handed them to us and I dabbed the towel on my neck as she poured the coffee. Margo rubbed her face and the towel came out good as black. Her hair kept dripping down to her t-shirt.
“Thank you,” I said. Margo just smiled at the coffee. She bent over and slurped it with the mug still on the table. I could see the dark circles under her eyes as she bent over. She slept the last five hours as I drove but she woke up every time, saying “I’m tired.”
She leaned back up and licked her lips.
“Why do you always where so much makeup?”
“You looked better without it.”
“You’re not unique. Every guy says that.”
“Why do you have to bring me down?”
“Why do you have to tie me down?” She raised her eyebrows at me.
I leaned back in my seat. “If you didn’t wantto come on this trip you didn’t have to.”
Margo stood up, like she always did when she was frustrated. No one is around. It’s too late. But if they were, they’d all be looking up at her, like she wanted. “You said your mother wanted to meet me so I said I would come. I wouldn’t have come if I knew I’d have to say no to you in front of her.”
“You didn’t have to. You could have said yes.” She leaned forward with her hands on the edge of the booth.
I leaned forward. “Maybe it would have beenbetter if I just came by myself.”
“You clearly had this big plan with this trip, so I know you would’ve made me come one way or other.”
“You always make me out to be some controlling asshole.”
“You are a controlling asshole. And I’m a stubborn asshole. You knew I’d say no.”
I picked up a menu and handed her the other. “Let’s just eat.”
“I want to be here, Steven,” she said, sitting back down, her face close to mine. I put the menu down, sighing. She looked better now. She wiped more makeup away with some napkins and put them on the wet plate. She looked at me so hard. I couldn’t look away. “You’re just trying too hard to keep me here. It makes me wanna run.”
I saw the rain hitting the top of my car with big splashes. The seats still looked damp and I felt how wet my socks were. I licked my finger and wiped it on the plate and it came up bare.
“I asked you for a reason, Margo.”
She leaned back. “I know that. You’ve said I love you so many times and I loved that and I said it back but it never meant I planned on that.”
“What’s the point on saying it if you don’t plan on saying yes to me sometime?”
“I’m tired, Steven. We’ve been through this.”
“We have, but we never seem to reach a conclusion.”
“Why do we need a conclusion? Why can’t we just be here, right now? Here. Here! I’m a here person. Not a future person, a then person. I just want to be here. I can be here with you.”
“I need to be there with you. That’s my plan.”
“Plans are for suckers.”
“Plans are what keep you on the road. Plans are what keep you arriving to parties on time. Plans keep the rain from getting into your goddam car! So maybe you better adjust yourself to some plans if you’re gonna be with me.”
“I’m not a sucker, Steven. I won’t let youmake me into a sucker.”
The waitress came over. “You two ready to order?”
“Yes,” I said, leaning back.