It’s a long drive south to Minneapolis from northern Minnesota and he asks me if I still love him. I say no without much energy and look out the window. The trees are stamped over one another in browns, whites, greens, and all those greys. Sometimes there’s snow and sometimes there’s rusting cars in front yards. He is quiet now.
I think about Ohio in the winter, how it’s flatter in Minnesota but has the same feeling. As a little girl in the backseat of my grandmother’s station wagon I watched out the window as we drove through rural Ohio towards some aunt’s house for Christmas dinner. There were big country houses, roller coaster sized hills, and the chimney smoke looked like more sky. It was always so comforting being on those countryside drives, out where people had some space and it didn’t feel as desperate as it was where my mom and I lived in Cleveland. I would look at those old farmhouses and dream of having my own home with a boy who loved me in it.
He cries next to me, blue-eyed tears pooling on his cheeks and as we drive by a family of deer I worry because it’s hunting season. Beyond him there’s the tree line and past that I can occasionally see Lake Superior fighting against the frozen shore, but mostly I only see the trees. Now I see a lighthouse, he is talking about loneliness and I am saying soothing things I don’t mean. I think of winter again and other distant heartbreaks. I don’t feel anything; our talking and his crying feel far away. I’m in Ohio on those winter drives as a little girl passing the old red barn with Mail Tobacco painted on the side where I’m dreaming of the woman I eventually forgot to become.
Corinne Duval is originally from Cleveland and currently resides in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. She is a graduate of Chatham University with a BA in English Literature and Cultural Studies.