Teri Perry was the sensation of the day at school. The hair dresser had trimmed her hair down to nearly the scalp before they’d gotten rid of all the black. With a bright, light, and short dress and makeup that made the most of a cheery smile, everyone wanted to come see the creature formerly known as Agatha.
Sam was there every instant he could shake free of classes, making known his claim. Charlie joined them for lunch.
“How did your mother take your transformation?” he’d asked her.
Teri smiled. “I think she was relieved. When I went goth, she’d expected it to last only a month or so. And she knew I’ve been worried about something lately.”
Sam asked, “Are you ready to tell her about me?”
She shook her head. “Too many questions to deal with right now. And I don’t want to waste the time we have.”
Charlie exchanged a look with Sam.
He changed the subject. “Guys, I have news. It seems my mother died in childbirth.”
“When was this?” Charlie asked.
“Three months before you guys were born, and in Kansas City.”
Teri squeezed his hand. “So you didn’t know.”
“Nope. I had no clue. Mom and I have some re-bonding to do. I have to convince her I feel the same as before.”
Charlie asked, “Do you?”
“Pretty much. It’s that strange woman who had plans for my future that she never saw that I’m conflicted over. Who was Ginger Delany?”
He quit rambling when he realized his thoughts were drifting too close to his own future worries for comfort. What was Teri thinking? How do you live your life when you don’t really believe you’ll have a future?
They were sitting on the hood of his Jeep the parking lot after the last bell.
She watched the other students walk by. Some waved, many looked, and some weren’t sure who she was.
“Sam. How short is my hair, compared to your dream?”
He took a careful look, running the tips of his fingers through the fine stubble. “It’s pretty close.”
She leaned closer, her eyes shut, as he touched her. “Sam, if I asked, would you run away with me.”
“Yes.” He didn’t think before he said it. “Why?”
Her brown eyes opened close to his. Ever breath included her perfume. “Because I don’t think we have much time.”
He nodded. “Charlie told me your worries. I don’t share them.”
“He’s tried to convince me the world is nothing but sunshine and roses, too. I tend to believe the world I see.”
“So you think the world is going to end today?”
“My world, and at dawn.” Her voice had a slight waver.
“And if it’s not?”
She smiled sadly. “The hair length was just confirmation. I’ve been feeling it coming for months. It’s like the auras. When you see the dawn getting brighter, you know the sun is coming, whether you’re ready for it or not.”
She gripped his arm. “Sam, I can feel the minutes slipping away. We only have hours left to us. We will be in that field at dawn. And you will be loving me.”
He couldn’t deny her. “I have one requirement.”
“What is that?”
“We stop by the county clerk’s office on the way out of town.”
She had planned ahead. Her mother thought she was going to study with friends. She had no luggage, no books. “I won’t need them.”
Beautifully timid at the clerks office as they applied for their marriage license, she kissed him for the gesture. Sam grumbled mightily at the 72 hour waiting period. “I don’t believe I’ll ever get to see this filled out,” she held the paper in her hand, “but I love it.”
A stop at a Walmart for a night’s snacks and a sleeping bag, and they hit the road.
“Do you know where we’re going?”
She shook her head and giggled, “And I don’t care! Wherever we stop will be the right place.”
Her euphoria was contagious. “The last time I drove blindly across the countryside, it was a much different situation.”
“The other girl.” She nodded.
“What do you know about that?”
“The night you cried on the mountain.” She struck a dramatic pose, like one of the silent actresses with her head back and the tips of her fingers to her forehead. “She...Sue?”
“She abandoned you. Broke your heart.”
He nodded. “But it’s better now.”
She giggled and wrapped her arms around him as he drove.
“Hey! I don’t want to have an accident.”
“We won’t. We don’t die until dawn, remember.”
He let his breath out through his teeth in exasperation.
“I won’t let you die.”
She gave a long sigh. “I love you.”
“And I love you.”
“So find a place to stop already.”
He nodded and took the next turn and he started taking alternate rights and lefts as they meandered far from the highway.
“Turn off my cell phone. Yours too.” He suggested.
“Right. I think we want to be unfindable.”
She dug into his pocket and took longer to find it than was actually necessary. But she brought it out and found the way to turn it all the way off. She did the same with hers.
“Oh, Sam! Look!”
There was a little rural campground complete with a bathroom, and in the distance was a low ridge. He recognized it instantly from his dreams. This was the place.