“We’ll live forever, won’t we, Robert?”

Robert glanced at Catherine and placed his hand on hers.

“Yes, Catherine. We will.”

“Good.”

Robert put his hand back on the steering wheel and made a left at Hemlock Street. The trees were being slashed by the wind, leaves slit at the throat floated toward the ground. When one landed on the windshield, Robert turned on the wipers for a second, long enough to bat the lone leaf away. He glanced again at Catherine, always returning his eyes to the road sharply. Catherine’s knees curled up toward her chin, her sneakers hanging off the edge of her seat.

“Robert?”

“Yes, Catherine?”

“Where are we going?”

Robert turned up the radio only a little, just enough for the singer’s warble to be made out into coherent lyrics. He made a right on Boxwood Avenue.

The wind coming in from the passenger’s seat window forced Catherine’s hair into her eyes, but she let the strands tickle her eyelashes before deciding to brush them away; for a second, however, she could not figure to what to do with her hands and looked at them as foreign objects unnaturally attached to her body. Robert gripped her wrists with one hand and moved them down, his eyes never leaving the road.

“Don’t touch your face, Catherine. You’ll get it dirty.”

The rope around Catherine’s ankles began to itch, but she tried not to scratch. She gave in a few seconds later.

Robert bore left on Azalea Place and the wind blew harder against the car. Catherine’s hair whipped over her face at ever increasing intervals, and she turned away from the window and looked at Robert.

“Robert?”

The stain on Robert’s shirt sleeve finally stopped spreading as Robert made a right onto Privet Court.

“Robert, how much longer will we be driving?”

The wind blew leaf after leaf into Robert’s eyeline, and he kept the wipers on.

“Catherine, go back to sleep.”

“I’m not tired.”

“You have to sleep.”

“I want my bear.”

“Catherine.”

“I want my bear.”

“Will you go to sleep if I give you your bear?”

“Yes.”

Robert turned right onto Oleander Drive.

“I promise.”

He reached into the backseat and groped around for Catherine’s bear. When he handed it to her, she clutched it to her chest and slammed her eyes shut.

He turned the radio up. The sirens were barely muffled by the lounge singer’s voice.

“Robert?”

“I thought you were going to sleep.”

“I just want to ask you something.”

“Hurry. Then sleep.”

“Never mind.”

“No. Ask me.”

A beat.

“Robert, will you always love me?”

Robert made a left onto Lobelia Lane. The car had chilled to a placidly frigid temperature.

“No, Catherine.”

“Okay.”

Catherine shut her eyes tighter.

“I’ll sleep now.”

Robert took in Catherine’s small body with his eyes for a few seconds, then turned away.

Another leaf slid onto the windshield.
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