The Sandra Texts
A balmy south Texas night. Joshua and Katherine sit side by side, he driving, she riding, her window up, his down, his cufflinked arm hanging in the wind.
He clutches the coupe that belongs to the Catholic school into a higher gear. He borrowed it for their evening out.
She says, "Will you roll up the window, Joshua?"
"It's warm," he replies.
He rolls it up.
He says, "How 'bout a hamburger?"
The golden light of the streetlamps warm the asphalt to a glisten. Not much traffic.
Joshua wheels the car into the parking lot of a hamburger stand.
Katherine looks at him as if affronted.
"What?" he asks. "You don't want hamburgers? How 'bout tacos?"
He pulls the coupe back onto the roadway going the opposite direction.
"Sunday I'll take you to La Parisienne for breakfast before you leave. It's my favorite cafe. You want to go to the art museum, too? It's not far from there. I like it very much. They have recitals there sometimes on Sundays. I read Pasternak in its garden one day. A beautiful morning."
They are idling at a stop light.
"What's wrong?" Joshua asks. "What's with the silence? You've been doing this since we left the symphony."
"I don't want tacos."
Green light. Clutch. Shift. Sputter.
"Okay, my dear. So what do you want?"
"For god's sake, Katherine! I can't read your mind!"
"It's nothing." And Katherine leans on her arm and stares out the closed window.
"Chinese? You want something different? Let's go to the Riverwalk. We'll have a margarita or a beer on the Riverwalk like last night. You seemed to like that."
"Yes I did," she says distantly.
"And the Tango de Tango. How about that? You seemed to like that. More than the Don Quixote. But I was into the Strauss. Very Beautiful."
"Yes, it was all beautiful, Joshua."
They are nearly downtown now. He will be searching for parking soon.
A long bout of quiet.
"Tomorrow you want to go to a mission?"
And he is setting the emergency brake.
Joshua looks at her.
Katherine will not look back. Katherine opens the car door and steps out of the car.
As Joshua watches Katherine step out of the car, as he watches the turn of her dress as she steps out of the car, he can only consider how distant she seems, how estranged she has become. Reluctant to make love to him last night, she had been. Unable even to put into words why. He had feared perhaps another man. She had assured him there was not. But there was something. Distance and time, Joshua tells himself. Just distance and time. When he returns to southern Kansas from San Antonio all will be well, Joshua tells himself. He will fix it then, Joshua tells himself.
He asks, "Are you sure this is what you want?"
She shuts the door.