We stopped in North Carolina, near Black Mountain.

There was a waffle house and a rock face with a big

white cross at the top, but we stopped for the waffle

house, which served all night. You poured maple

syrup all over your waffles and then chased me

with your mouth after you ate them because

you know I hate maple syrup. I tried to order

Darjeeling, but they only had Lipton and that

was acceptable. Lipton is good too if you add

enough sugar, or sometimes, milk; or just drink it

black, whichever. The waitress called me sweetie

and you teased me because I look older than you but

I'm the one friendly southern women always call sweetie.

*

After that interlude inside the waffle house, as we walked

across the parking lot, I started feeling reluctant to leave.

The highway was in front of us, but there were a bunch

of loblollies on each side that seemed to be ushering

me towards them with their wind-blown boughs. So

I grabbed your hand and pulled you in that direction

and you thought I was being really strange, but

you decided to just go with it because you know

I can be spontaneous and really strange, sometimes.

We waited in the woods awhile, and I thought I felt a

presence there, like this wasn't all a waste. Then we went back to

the car where you propped your feet in my lap and resumed reading

to me and just like that I was driving again on the long road to Virginia.