Except for an increasing rain, the omens seemed to stay at bay. They ran, holding hands and laughing, from the car to the porch and entered the house.
“This is awkward,” JJ said.
“Just kiss me,” Lila said. So they kissed right there in the kitchen. So far, so good. They parted, hands held between their bodies.
“Come upstairs with me,” he said.
“Let me go to the bathroom first.” She pulled away and turned with a sassy skip, looking back at him over her shoulder as she walked down the hall.
When the bathroom door closed, JJ turned to lock the outside door and something caught his eye in the sloping field. There was a group of wild turkeys in the grass. A gaggle? A flock? They were strutting and pecking their way across the field, taking their time. This farm with no crops and no animals. It’s a farm of the world, JJ thought. It’s just here and the turkeys are here and this is the way it’s supposed to be. “And I’m here with Lila,” he thought. “Finally. And it’s all ok.”
To the right he heard, then saw, a car coming up the road. It slowed and turned into his driveway. A black BMW, like an adder entering a henhouse. Alarmed squawking in JJ’s brain.
“No. No. No.” He didn’t recognize the car but he knew who it was. “No,” he said again as he watched Betty, his sister, emerge from the driver’s seat. She deployed an umbrella and peered around at the barn, field, and house. An intruder in nature. The land itself seemed to grow still, aware of this foreigner, knowing that people from Away never brought glad tidings. Betty started walking toward the porch.
The sound had all sucked up into JJ’s head and he was frozen by her approach. A sense of being the prey shuddered his body back into movement. She hadn’t yet seen him yet. His hand was still on the lock bolt and he turned it, the click breaking the spell. He moved quickly away, down the hall, crouching, and pushed his way through the bathroom door.
Lila was rising from the toilet, pulling up her jeans. “JJ, what the…”
“Shhhh. She’s here!”
“Betty.” JJ jostled past to the little window and pulled the curtains together tight. The bathroom was only a WC, just a toilet and a sink. He shifted back to the bathroom door and latched the hook into the eyelet.
“She’s here to ruin my life.”
Then came the knocking, four hard raps. He could picture her there, all consternation and intent. He quieted his breathing and waited.
“JJ,” Lila whispered.
Then, his sister’s voice, muffled but too close. “Jason!” For a moment he thought she was already in the house but, no. His mind was messing with him. They stayed quiet, waiting it out. JJ’s phone vibrated in his pocket. Caller id: “Betty (Satan)”. He refused the call. Four more hard raps on the door, a turning and shaking of the doorknob, (“Thank God I locked it”). Silence for a moment, then steps retreating, car door chunking shut, the engine, tires on gravel, and an acceleration down the hill.
He realized he was clutching Lila’s hand. He was clutching her whole arm.
“Kiss me again,” Lila whispered. “She’s gone.”
“But she’ll be back,” he said. He looked at Lila’s wry smile, the twinkle in her eye, and realized she was amused, enjoying this. Then he kissed her, cowering in the little downstairs bathroom of the farmhouse he bought with his lottery winnings. He felt they were in a sanctuary, spared and chosen, the overlooked survivors of some freak disaster. A close call and very exciting
He pulled her closer and let his hands roam down to her waist and hips. Her noticed her jeans were still unbuttoned from when he barged into the bathroom. He never wanted her more.
But a voice, insistent, in his head. “She’ll be back,” it said.
“Oh shut up,” he said out loud.
“Come on,” he said and led her into the hallway and up the stairs.