I never knew a thing about Georgia in the fall, until we plowed through forests in a rental car, its silver exterior lightening and slackening in the cold October sun. I got this from him – that thought that if I play the same songs on the broken stereo, and bring up the same three stories I can count on to warrant a reaction, that the trees lining the road will blur until indistinguishable from sand or sleet or Dallas, Texas where my father and I had that car ride without the speed bumps, or anywhere else we’ve been before. Both of us, always burdened by a sweet tooth, a tongue craving only what it’s tasted before. This wasn’t the ride through San Pedro where he spilled confessions onto my hands, which were still learning about steering. It wasn’t the slope down into the Spring snow when he screamed at me with black ice under the Subaru tires, either. I was eighteen, I had learned how to admit things, and forgotten how to drive. He was somewhere between blond and gray, a man who knows better than to change. The most callused hands that ever held me, and the softest ones that ever let me down. My father, my killer, who taught me the difference between trusting and believing. I watched the silhouette of his weathered face as he drove north of Atlanta, where he was alone in another condo with the same coffee machine – motherless, daughterless. I never knew if he was thinking so much at once that it hardened his face and furrowed his brows, kept him looking mean, but tender, just as he was, just as I became. Or if he’d heard so much too soon that he’d learned to tune it out, to tune me out, and watch the road and the rearview instead, and maybe that was why we hadn’t seen each other in three months and he’d forgotten to ask me a single question. I knew better than to try to keep my father, to even try to speak to him. I knew my father through the thick, curving scars on his hands, from ocean rocks and dirty brothers’ fingertips, and through the fights we fought just for a reason to burn and to talk, while my good sister watched. He gave me his agony, his ecstasy, the cracks in the sidewalk, and the tendency to not rinse blood off of clothes. I got temporary constitutions, we preach and retract. I catch him when his words come out all at once and step on each other’s toes, I step on his foot but I’ve never asked him to stop speaking. He can’t walk fast enough for cities, and I can’t sit still, so we drive, it is the only thing we know how to do. It is the only way to stay in steady motion, the place where he is right and I am wrong, we are big and we are small. Nothing meant a thing to me about Georgia in the fall, except that it wasn’t New York in the winter, except that he put his heavy map of a hand on my knee, and my lips were parting into teeth and my eyes were damp with the depth of it all, and he would love it, and so I never let him know.
Lovisa Lohmann, has been writing short stories and poems ever since she was little. Anytime she feels anything, her first inclination is to write about it, so that she can capture it before it disappears, and make sense of it. She writes most about the people she’s close to, and writes exactly the way she thinks,— so showing people her writing is like showing them a little piece of the inside of her brain. This is her first time having anything published anywhere, and she’s working on learning how to share her work with other people.