Craving for Love

By: Violet Vaughn


My car swerves abruptly and begins to fishtail. “Crap!” Lifting my foot off the gas, I slow and let the wheels gain traction. As my heart settles back down from my throat, I take a deep breath. That’s all I need, to total my Saab the day before I leave for Colorado. My life is such a mess right now—I need to start fresh, far away from my pain.

I turn off my music so I can have quiet to focus in the storm, and flash to Jason’s smile at the bottom of a great ski run. An East Coast skier all my life, I’ve craved powdery snow, steep terrain, and huge bumps to bounce down instead of the icy slopes I’m used to. Moving out west has been my dream for years. Jason should come to Colorado with me, since it’s his dream too. Except that wouldn’t solve anything. We need to go our separate ways and stop clinging to something we can’t have.

Jason doesn’t want children, and I do. He has no intention of ever having a family or the trappings to tie him down. I’ve done my best to stay away from him since we broke up, but he continues to invade my thoughts.

My heart pounds against my chest when my car suddenly slides off the road. Plastic is hard in my palms as I white-knuckle the wheel, trying to gain control. Metal scrapes when I graze the embankment, and I imagine what I just did to the paint job as something fizzles and pops. I think it’s a headlight, judging by the sudden lack of lighting. I yank the wheel to the right and bump back onto the road. Once I’m in control of my car, I let out the breath I was holding and gasp for oxygen. Serves me right for letting my mind wander in this kind of weather.

My trembling subsides by the time I get home. The engine rumbles as I get out to assess the damage, and I discover it’s a headlight. Relieved it’s an easy fix, I turn off the ignition and head toward my apartment. Wood is heavy in my arms when I grab two logs for the woodstove and let myself in.

White vapor escapes my mouth when I get inside, and I drop my purse to take the five steps to check the cast-iron woodstove. The faint glow of red tells me I’ve got embers only. I sigh as I stoke them, and kindling clatters when I drop it in to ignite.

Once my fire is roaring, I plop down on the couch. Somehow I have to replace my headlight before I leave for Colorado tomorrow. Tears fill my eyes when I remember who always used to deal with things like this for me. A log on the fire snaps, and I pick up my cell phone to call Jason. No. I need to stay strong, so I get up for a hot drink instead.

Combining leftover coffee and sweet liqueur, I microwave something to warm me. But when I finish it by the fire, I realize all I’ve done is weaken my willpower, and I call Jason. A groggy voice answers, “Hello?”

“Hey.” Soot from ashes is acidic in my mouth as I chew on my thumbnail.

“Casey?” He sounds as unsure as I feel.

“Yeah,” I say. “I need your help.” Darn it, I’m crying. This is getting old.

His voice is suddenly alert. “Are you crying? What’s wrong? Are you okay?”

“Uh-huh.” I sniff and swallow to tamp down my tears. “I did something to my car. I think it’s only a headlight, but... would you come over?” Yeah, I’m lame. It’s not like this is an emergency, but now that I have him on the phone, I want more.

There’s a long silence, and I’m about to tell him to forget it, when he says, “I have to plow in the morning.”

I jump in before he can say more. “You can start here. Like you used to. I’ll make you coffee and breakfast.” I’m not above begging, and I hear myself whine. “Please?” He doesn’t reply, but there’s rustling in the background. “Jason?”

He sighs, and his voice is resigned when he says, “I’m coming. Be there in a bit.”

Pacing my apartment, I wait for him. Not that there is much to pace. I count fifteen steps and turn around. My home is an old garden shed converted into a loft apartment, with tacky ’80s décor. But it’s all mine. The main floor is open, with a loft setup in the eaves where I sleep. I placed my bed so that the loft’s triangle-shaped window that frames a view of the valley at my feet. It allows me to gaze at the stars on a clear night, and it’s not uncommon to see a shooting star. I’ve made my share of wishes, but unfortunately they aren’t coming true.

My stomach grumbles, and I remember a banana, a few stolen French fries, and alcohol. A wave of nausea passes through me. I need food. Foil rustles as I grab a granola bar out of my packed box of dry goods, and I open the fridge to more glaring white than anything else. Working in a restaurant feeds me well most days, so there isn’t much need for food at home. I pop the top of a diet cola and let the cool fizz soothe my tongue as I hop up on my tiny counter.