Tori’s voice was pained, like a long-suffering saint. She flopped down next to me on the sofa.
“Why what, honey?”
I set my computer aside so I could focus on what she was saying. She’d accused me enough times of loving my screen more than her, and I didn’t want that to be true. Maybe if I could close the laptop right up when she sat down to talk, it’d mean it wasn’t.
“Why are people such assholes?” she said, dropping her hands onto her lap with exaggerated exhaustion, as though the weight of the world was crushing them into the gaudy gauze of her skirt.
“What happened, baby?” Questions were always the safest response–I’d learned that the hard way.
She sighed–the weight of the world pushing on her lungs this time, apparently. “I was driving on 18th and going to turn right into that Starbucks on the corner of Pearl, but there was this dude on a bike beside me on the sidewalk. So, of course, I waited, right? I wasn’t going to turn right in front of him and make him slam on his brakes, or maybe crash into me and go flying over the car. He didn’t even have a helmet on!”
“Uh huh.” My fingers itched for my keyboard. I’d been right in the middle of a particularly difficult stanza of a poem I’d been working on for weeks. My head was full of simile and alliteration, not traffic. But Tori didn’t seem to notice.
“So, I’m waiting, right? And some asshole behind me in a friggin’ Escalade, of course, honks his horn at me!” She stared at me, her green eyes wide with indignation. “Can you believe that? I mean, what did he want me to do, kill the cyclist so he could get to work faster?”
“Shit. No way.” I glanced at my computer, then dragged my gaze back to the incensed Tori. “Did you flip him off?”
Tori pursed her lips, self-righteous now. “No. I turned around and pointed at the bike guy, then gestured wildly and shrugged.” She paused. “I’m not sure he understood my pantomime. I wish I had a bull-horn attached to my car so I could really chew guys like that out.”
“Uh huh.” I reached for my laptop, laying it on my thighs and stroking the smooth, silver case. I ran my finger around the apple. Maybe if I went to Starbucks, I could get that last stanza done. Starbucks had caffeine. Starbucks had no Tori. Maybe the bike guy would be there. Maybe the Escalade guy would be there. But Tori wouldn’t.
I stood up. “Honey, I’m going to go over there right now and check out the scene.”
“What?” She gaped at me, confused. “Go where?”
“To the 18th and Pearl Starbucks. I just can’t picture exactly what it was like for you.” I hurried to the coat-hooks and grabbed my jacket. “I really want to understand what you went through today.”
I risked a glance at her as I zipped up my coat. She still sat on the couch, her expression a weird mixture of gratitude and suspicion. I blew a kiss and let the door click closed behind me before the suspicion won out. I didn’t care if I got hit by a Hummer on my way there. At least I’d be at peace.