Azteca

by Patricia Thomas

You always knew food was the best way to get through to me. Thanksgiving in the women’s shelter is somehow worse than that Thanksgiving I spent with my dad at the casino buffet. So when you call, I’m standing in the North Dakota cold waiting for that busted Pontiac to pull up because I can’t resist food. Or maybe I can’t resist you.
I know you had trouble finding the shelter, though you conceal your frustration like always. A river of worry creasing your forehead with a banana boat smile.
That’s the whole point, I explain. The shelter is hard to find so that we stay safe. My roommate’s ex is a bloodhound for her death. But I don’t tell you that part. You wouldn’t care anyway.
Azteca is the closest restaurant still open. We grab the food and eat in the car since these days I can’t face people or life in general and the place behind my neck where you punched me still stings.
I’m afraid the engine will die because we’re using so much heat to radiate our bones in the Great Plains winter. The roads are slick. I want to return home where I don’t have to wake an hour early to start my car. I want you back, you say in between bites of carne asada.
I say you never had me.