seven of cups
late 2015

The truck takes two hours to load, and when it's done, Molly finds that she's near to exhaustion already. But there's no time to give in. Not yet.

She drags herself to a McDonalds, orders herself a coffee, and then barrels down the road. Dust, wind kicks up and the miles stretch on and on before her.

("why drive all by yourself? that's a crazy drive for you to do alone. what are you going to do when you're tired and there's too much road?" julia says over the phone, as molly packs and packs.

"i already picked out hotels. it's what priceline is for," she half lies, shoveling books into another box. they hit with heavy thud after heavy thud. "i'll call you at every stop."

"promise?" julia's voice sounds thin, old over the line.

"i promise," and it's the only truth she's spoken lately.)

truth be told, she likes the open road in front of her. the pavement stretching, the heavy heat pressing down, the wind whipping around her face. the only thing that is wrong is that it leaves her with her thoughts. it isn't like running where her legs can carry her faster than her thoughts, that can tire her out so thoroughly.

here, she has to consider what she'd done, truly what she'd done. she had to consider the hours she'd spent scrolling through facebook, google alert feeds, news papers, public records about the fenwicks. about a family who was Christian, who was devout, who was picture perfect and clean in every way she could find.

no parent married by business transaction, no kids that had fucked up badly, no shame. just a family that you found in photos and commercials, happy and whole. it makes her skin itch, makes her hands twitch with the thought of it. that this family, so perfectly arranged, could have been hers. that there was something out there that had almost been in her reach.

("tell me about finding out. you told me that's a pivotal moment, with you, ms. patton."

molly squirms on the therapy couch. she'd much rather kiss her thrapist than talk to her about this. she'd much rather do a lot of things. "i felt... betrayed. i'd been out of place for years. i-i always felt like everyone around me was in a different place, a different worl--." she clamps her mouth shut and presses her face in her hands.

her therapist waits.

"it didn't feel fucking-- i didn't know they wanted me for a trophy. why would they want me for a trophy in-instead of a daughter.")

it's at kansas city that she finally decides to check the photos she's saved from her searches. thumbing through every public photo available: who's nose did she have, who's cheekbones, who's shade of red? it pushes up the memory of being a teenager, of stroking her stomach idly while watching maury on the television.

bitterness swells in her throat, and she swallows it down as hard and furiously as she can.

she has a half mind to open one of the boxes with the rabbit from years ago. instead, she rolls over, texts her aunt, and throws herself into sleep.

("what made you feel so out of place?"

she shrugs. "the costumes, the horror stuff. not being... straight. and... and my son." her head dips again, anger and shame and regret almost boiling over. "my mom's never really been the same after when she talks to me."

"and what if your biological father--what if he isn't like you? what about that possibility?")

hotels come and hotels go. she gets closer and closer to where she wants-- where she should be. but the miles don't make anything easier. it doesn't stop her from doubting, it doesn't stop her from obssessing. and she knows she should stop. she knows she shouldn't have ever started.

but she wasn't going to stop. not now.