So Fast, So Maybe

Northeast Portland 
#51
 There was a chance it was an even split between genuine enjoyment and beer, but regardless she was coasting along on a high. Content with the night, happy with how shameless he seemed to be about celebrating a victory even if it wasn't his. Still, it took verifiable strength not to cringe at his chosen nickname, just out of irony's sake alone.

 "You can drop me off at home, we can try to see if you have the way there fully memorized by now." An idea she probably would have found alarming a few years back but now seemed strangely flattering. "Let's go then, back to the big ole yellow monster."
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#52
 ‘Fully memorized’ needled his attention enough for him to make a face. He recalled it’s not the first reference she’s made to his attention to her address. He wondered how many times she had to get somewhere to know how to get there. Not because she was dull (God, she’s not) but she just might not care. That question crawled up his spine and rooted in his brain: how could you live like that? It felt so dangerous and alluring in the way that the unknown always was.
 Walking back to the truck reminded him of the game they’d played last time they were here, where they’d voiced their thoughts about each other. She’d been better at the game than he’d been.
In the familiar setting of the truck, then decided for a second go, "You’re like a little dandelion seed." The diesel turned over slowly, and started to warm up to a consistent growl. "You must have floated your way across the U.S.A., up the coast, and landed here in Portland. Who knows where you’ll float to next?"
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#53
 It was hardly an insult, but so seemingly out of the blue she chuckled - a feeble and nervous sort of confusion as she glanced over his way. Quietly thinking of how delicate a dandelion seed was and what that meant for how she was perceived. "I guess that's sort of fair, I didn't really care what way I ended up going at the beginning." Happy to float on the breeze so to speak, as long as it took her miles and miles away from home.

 "But I'm thinking that I'm pretty substantially tied down now - got a whole root system, if we're going with that analogy." A whole job with contracts and stipulations that seemed almost certain to kill her before happily sending her off to an early retirement from the murder field. "What about you? Think you're stuck down or not quite yet?"
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#54
 He did not question her aloud, but the incredulity of his face shouted his doubts. What roots kept her in the ground was not his business, but she was in his truck with all her mystery and the contradictions it brought. Even if he let it go, his skeptical smile and lift of his brows let her know he’d be thinking that one over.
 Maybe he was letting her off easy, he thought, but he was sucker enough to laugh away the enigma and let her divert the conversation to him. "I just got back, and have absolutely no idea what I’m doing with myself," he announced boldly. "But I’m much too afraid to just see where the wind takes me." The admission was physically painful, but the truth just the same.
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#55
 "Not to get all depressing and dark but I think if you're going to do that shit you're obligated to do it either real young or real old." Half thinking out loud as she leaned back and closed her eyes briefly. "I mean, it wasn't that scary for me because I figured I was bound to land somewhere better. And I guess if you were super old you might just be excited to recreate that one more time. But all that stuff in the middle?" She wrinkled her nose as if they were old and resigned for pasture.

"People want stability, even if that doesn't look like some sort of white picket fence hellscape, they want to feel like they did something intention and correct."
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#56
 The idling truck and ticking clock were left to their own devices . She spoke and he listened like he might be taking notes. Even when she closed her eyes during her explanation he voyeured, not wrinkling his nose in kind but keeping attentive.
 When she was done, his focus lingered. He had nothing to add, and in his consideration she had fine points. His fingers folded together on top of the wheel as he contemplated it, caging his chest against the steering column in self-defense. "Do you feel like you've done that?" He probed; she didn’t seem like she was done, and maybe needed the help along.
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#57
 "Nah." Little pause, no proper reason to lie and sell some alternate reality where she had all her shit together in record time. "I don't think I have it all figured out but - I guess I wager everyone can get there in time, right?" Hoping he'd agree, not wanting to deal with a more pessimistic approach that would prattle on about the meaningless nature of existence and rat races and - blah blah blah.

"What about you, where would you say you are on the timeline?"
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#58
 "Nah."
 The upward infliction of hope in her voice sunk deep in his skin like a warming balm. His smile was a winding, uncertain road across his face, driving the sentiment closer to home than he’d known. It inspired a quivering courage in his voice, "I’m starting from scratch. But having a blank slate is just another way of saying you got a world of opportunity."
  With the heat undying, he turned to the chilled windshield and leveraged the truck into reverse. The engine was warm enough. He set a hand on the back of her seat and turned around while the vehicle eased back. Not having to look at her now, it was easier to talk with less vibrato. "For what it’s worth, I think you’ll figure it out easier than most."
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#59
 Far from in a position where she could judge anyone for their blank slate, she nodded along with the idea that it was just a new page in a sketchbook. Daunting maybe, at least before you had some semblance of a plan and a first mark inked down - but necessary all the same. Leaning forward a bit as if to get out of his way when he twisted to back out, hands in her lap as she picked at a chipped corner of a nail.

 "Calling a spade a spade here, don't mind me compliment fishing - what makes you say that?" Funny since she knew more than he realized, comical with the conflict of interest that was beers and pinball with the equivalent of prime rib to a butcher. "Do I strike you as cool and collected?" Wondering how much of that would be her and how much could be accredited to some subconscious worm of training in her brain.
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#60
  As if prompted by a want of seriousness, Max gave her a chiding look, risking taking his eyes from the road for just a moment. "You’d make an old Marine proud how you handled yourself so far." Proof of sincerity was left to hang on his wrinkled nose and eased expression.
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