The girl wondered as she people watched from the checkered patio of a tiny café, how she got to the place she was at now. Sipping slowly, almost methodically one could say, on the Vietnamese iced coffee she watched as the condensed milk separated from the melting ice.
What am I doing here? A swirl from her straw stirred together the milk-coffee and water. The girl had never gone anywhere in her entire life, and she was cresting the rip old age of 19. She was still living in the tiny town she'd been born in, still praying to her parents' God, wearing her mother's handed down Levi's, grandma's pearls, and great-grandma's locket. Spoiling herself with a once-a-week 'exotic' coffee. If one were to believe Mrs. Babanoux's menu.
It had never occurred to the girl to leave her town, to get on the local bus, take that bus to the nearest functioning city then get on the nearest Amtrack and take that Amtrack somewhere where they had more than one coffee house, more than one outlet mall, and less slightly-racist iced coffees.
No one ever leaves, she realized.
Barbarous. She thought. Ludicrous.
All these people staying in the same place, like sedentary animals disinterested in the unfamiliar.
Maybe it was because she'd started community college last Fall that she had all these adventurous thoughts. Maybe it was because Summer session had made trek into Finals week and the girl felt like even the air suddenly had so much more weight to it. Or rather, it was that she could no longer exert enough force to counteract the airs weight. Either way, she had gotten to a point where she no longer wanted to read of History or look at the Mona Lisa in a Textbook. She wanted her life to be a history novel, compact, intriguing, but above all scandalous. She wanted to live in a world where people didn't stay in the same place for more than two years. But most of all, she wanted to see just how tiny the painting of Mona Lisa actually was. She to see the face of God, pray because she had faith, eat very little or very much without fearing how her nonexistent husband would react if she gained four or ten pounds.
An hour later with her coffee gone, croissant finished, and Roman history final studied for, the girl picked up her crocheted bag, unlocked her pale green Electra bike and rode home. She turned down the dirt path flanked by leaning Spanish moss trees and sunflowers, dropped her bike with a clatter, and sunk her sandaled feet into damp marsh. Her cotton dress swayed around her legs in the breeze as she walked up the four creaking steps to that never changing house of hers. Sidestepping the broken strip of wood in the middle of her Mama's wraparound porch the girl, like always, kissed two of her fingers and placed them onto the front door of the white house her family had had for generations.
Closing the door beside her and letting her bag sag onto the hook next to an iron mirror and picture of a Confederate solider she couldn't help but think: I'd probably just end up on the wrong side of history if my life was a history book anyway. This family always seems to choose the wrong side.
And so Amandine, like her bag had, sagged into the monotony of finding enjoyment in familiar things.