November 27th, 2021
Now. I drive past the Burger King. I start crying.
Then. I’m sitting in the fake leather booth, my hands under my bottom, feeling the cracks and the holes created from the hundreds of bottoms that have sat here before. The booth is orange or brown or both colors at the same time. You look into my bag to see what toy I got with my meal.
Now. I’m getting on the freeway at the truck stop entrance ramp in Faribault.
Then. I can see the look in your eyes as you spot the toy. It’s one we already have in our collection. I feel anxiety as I know what’s about to happen next. I feel embarrassment as I walk up to the counter and ask for a different toy. I feel every other eye in the restaurant looking at me, judging me, though I don’t dare turn around to see if it’s actually true.
Now. I’m speeding on the freeway.
Then. You let us wander around the newly constructed indoor playground. We’re with friends. You talk to your friends. I talk to mine. I don’t know how much time passes. Minutes? Hours? Days? We’re finally ready to leave the Burger King. We say bye to our friends and get in the car.
Now. I’m still on the freeway, driving away from the Burger King. I know how fast I’m going and I know how fast I need to go. I have to hit 88 miles per hour, because then I can go back. Not to the Burger King now, but to the Burger King then. It’s the same Burger King, but the one I’m driving away from means nothing to me now.
Then. I imagine that we’ll go back to Burger King a million times. I add our new toy to the collection when we get home. You kiss me goodnight and I go to sleep like I think I always will.
Now. I can never go back to Burger King, not the one that you and I shared. Sometimes I pick up a toy that reminds me of you. Sometimes I drive too fast to see if I can time travel. There is no always, but there is forever in that booth with you.