“We’re leaving?”

            “Of course we are.  The sooner the better.”

            “Since when have you been in control of me, Ravi?”

            “Since never.”

            “Then why do you keep ordering me around and acting like a jerk?”

            He suddenly seemed smaller, deflated.  “Because I’m scared,” he admitted.  “I’m scared, okay?”

            She felt sorry for snapping at him then.  “Okay, Ravi.  I’m coming.”

            Half an hour later, they had loaded a blanket, several pillows, two bags of food and cookware, several more bags containing spare clothing and things for when the baby arrived (any day now), and some trinkets that Cat couldn’t part with, into the trunk of the car alongside the multiple gas cans.  The sun had still not risen when Cat looked back one last time at the dim shape of what once had been her house, now a tomb for the anonymous man by the hearth.

            Neither spoke as they rolled out of town.  Ravi’s cautious driving of the day before had given way to a more reckless technique as if he wanted to leave the corpse as far behind him as possible in the shortest feasible time-span.  They bumped along over potholes and roots, felt the centripetal force around the curves.  Ravi’s brow was furrowed and the tendons on his hands stood out as he clutched the wheel.  His hair was tangled and his face smudged with charcoal dust and rough with stubble, and his eyes were rimmed with red.  When Cat expressed her concern, he claimed that he hadn’t been crying, but she knew otherwise.

            “Would you like me to drive?”

            He took his glare off the road momentarily and turned it on her.  “When’s the last time you operated a vehicle?”

            “Well, I couldn’t do any worse than you…”

            Ravi slammed on the brakes and threw open the door.  “Fine!” he snarled.  “As you wish!”

            “Calm down, Ravi.”

            They switched seats.  Ravi watched sullenly as Cat struggled to put the car in gear.  “Couldn’t do any worse than me, huh?”

            “Shut up or say something helpful.”

            “I’m getting carsick already.  In anticipation.”

            “You need a nap.”

            Ravi snorted.  “I do not.”

            But no sooner had Cat managed to get the car moving than Ravi dozed off against the window, his mouth slightly ajar.  “Is that so?” Cat could not resist muttering under her breath.  Ravi slept on, oblivious.

The End

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