Like Water

A boy and a girl travel cross-country to one another, trying to decide whether to run away from their family and religion to marry.

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1. TAXI

“What do you think happens when we die?” The boy in the back of the cab seat began as he stooped into the frame of the taxi. He wasn’t really a boy; but his expression was painfully childish. His two front teeth were ducking out from his cracking pink lips and his legs were shaking with tension. His shoes were unlaced and mismatched, and as for his hair; it was more of a dark bird’s nest, plonked on his innocent face.

“Why are you asking?”

“I mean, there’s no bigger question, really. I don’t think so. It’s like, the core of what you are as a person, you know. It’s like how you’re on this planet and what happens after. I don’t really think there could be a bigger question, apart from maybe, will you marry me?”

The taxi driver didn’t say anything, but instead felt the strong band of silver around his finger. The driver found himself stroking it every so often at work, especially doing the hard shifts, to remind himself what it was for. By the time he arrived home, she was waking up to face the day herself, cooking his dinner and her breakfast in one clean sweep. As she kissed his goodbye, she was kissing him goodnight. His smile fell a millimetre, before his eyes darted back to the mirror and watched the passenger watch him avidly, waiting for an answer.

“Each to their own, I suppose.” He let out with a shrug and a half-grimace. He couldn’t see why it would matter right now, with the gangly fidget.

“Exactly. Exactly.” The boy was exaggerating his words with too much vigour. Too much enthusiasm. He was now cracking the bones of each of his long thin fingers, like a pianist’s. “Except what if it isn’t. What if it’s not your own?”

“Listen, I’m not much much of a therapist-“

“If you’ll just try; and even just listen really; I’ll pay double the fare.”

The taxi driver nodded. In the corner of his eye, attached to the car keys like a little fleck of sunshine, a picture of his golden-haired daughter laughed with a face caked in cookie mix. It was her birthday next week, after all. He started the engine, asked for the direction. As he started his journey, the boy started his. 

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