Home > Take Me with You

Take Me with You
Catherine Ryan Hyde

Part One:

EARLY JUNE

Chapter One:

AUGUST, STANDING STILL

August Schroeder stood at the rear door of his broken-down motor home looking out through the small, square window. Had he looked out any other window—the windshield, the side windows, the little window over the kitchen sink—he’d have seen the inside of a mechanic’s garage. He wanted to see sky. He’d come out here to see sky. Not toolboxes and racks of new tires and hydraulic lifts.

He stepped out the door, down the two metal steps, and walked into the mechanic’s garage. He stepped in front of the open hood, where the mechanic could see him. The man straightened up, stretching his lower back against one hand. He wiped his hands on a red shop rag. Wiped his forehead on one dirty sleeve.

He was unusually tall, the mechanic. Maybe six foot six or taller. His limbs appeared stretched—thin and lanky. His blond hair was long in the back, curling and tumbling and disappearing under the collar of his blue work shirt.

Wes. His name was Wes. August had been careful to learn this, because so much of his fate rested in the mechanic’s hands. It seemed wise to remove as much of the distance between them as possible.

“How’s it going?” August asked.

“I’m on schedule. If that’s what you mean.”

August sighed. Took a seat on a stack of three unmounted tires, lowering himself with his hands. “I don’t even know what I mean. Just making conversation, I guess.”

Wes pulled a pack of cigarettes out of his breast pocket and shook one out, receiving it with his lips. “What’ve you been doing to keep busy all day?”

“Not much. Just absorbing the fact that Yellowstone isn’t going to happen.”

Wes lit the cigarette. Squinted at August through the smoke. “You told me you’re out all summer. Seems to me you’d still have plenty of time.”

“Time, yeah. I’ve got time. That’s not the issue. Money is the issue. I budget just so much for gas every summer. Yellowstone is four states away.”

“You go out all summer every summer?”

“I do.”

“You a teacher?”

“Yes.”

“What do you teach?”

“High school science.”

“Science,” Wes said. Like he was describing a shiny new car hardly anyone could afford. “I used to be good at science. So . . . maybe Yellowstone next summer.”

“Yeah,” August said. “I guess.” But when he thought again about giving up the part of the trip Phillip would have loved, should have shared, the pain came back, slicing him into two parts. The old and the new. It was so familiar now, that pain. He almost welcomed it. He’d almost missed it.

“But it was the whole point of the trip this year. It was really . . . kind of a big deal. But anyway, you don’t need to know all that, and it’s kind of personal. I just won’t be able to afford it, and that’s just the way it is.”

He looked up into Wes’s face and saw something, but he didn’t know what it was. Something that the mechanic was holding in. Something he could say, or not say. A weighing of options.

“I swear I’m not gouging you on this repair,” he said, but that wasn’t the thing.

“I know you’re not,” August said.

“I appreciate the trust.”

“It isn’t exactly trust. I don’t know you at all. I’ve known you for less than a full day. The reason I know your prices are fair is because my father owned a garage. I used to work summers there. I’m not exactly a mechanic, but I know quite a bit about it. I know the things that tend to go wrong, and I know how many hours’ labor it takes to fix them. If you were gouging me, I’d know it.”

About an hour later, August stood looking out his back door again, watching two boys play. One was maybe eleven or twelve, tall and lanky. He reminded August of a young horse—long legged and somehow managing to combine clumsiness with an odd grace. His hair was light brown and shaggy. The little one was quite little in comparison, maybe seven. His every move looked tentative. His very being had a tentative quality that drew August’s eyes.

They were kicking a ball around in an enormous lot of dirt and weeds, close enough to the garage that August assumed they belonged to the mechanic into whose hands he had fallen. He guessed they were brothers, because boys of such disparate ages didn’t tend to band together in play. Besides, they looked like brothers. They looked like two examples of the same theme.

As he stood watching, the long, familiar blade of pain sliced down from the pit of his throat, burned its way between his lungs. It was right there in his body, he now knew. It had never been in his head. It had always been real, but he had lived all those years without knowing it. Those years felt pointless and wasted now.

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