It's not completely unexpected for Max to disappear. In fact she does it a lot. Original Cindy has stopped bothering to ask where. She knows from talking to Logan that sometimes Max will sit for hours at the top of the decrepit old Space Needle. Original Cindy isn't afraid of heights, but she doesn't much like cold, and sitting up in the fog, or the chill of the night is not how she would spend an evening. Sometimes Max is gone for longer periods of time, a weekend, five days, never a full week, but she doesn't say where she goes or what she does. Original Cindy was a little surprised when Max asked if she wants to go for a little while.
"Just get out of here, fresh air and all that." Max asked nonchalantly with a shrug. Original Cindy wasn't suspicious, Max is her girl and maybe Max isn't totally normal but she's a'ight. So Original Cindy agreed and packed herself an overnight bag.
Original Cindy understands a little of Max's love for her motorcycle. While Original Cindy might not need whipping wind, sheer speed, and a vibrating hunk of steel to feel free, Max has always lived a little larger than life. They whipped out of the city, taking one of the few remaining transport lines between the city and the islands: one of the two old, rusty and diesel smelling ferries that chug slowly between Elliot Bay and the distant smudges of trees across the water. Original Cindy had never been on a ferry before. They're not exorbitantly expensive, used mostly for transport of goods out to the Islands, trucks packing their lower decks and men with big beards and driving callused hands drinking from the bar where a food court used to be. Max slipped her way through the smoky, sweaty innards of the ship out the thick doors with circular ship's portals to the front deck. The wind that whipped Original Cindy's face when she stepped outside took her by surprise. It was biting cold and cleansed her nose of the smell inside. She followed Max to the railing. Max's hair lashed across her face; poised at the bow she appeared a figure head, like on an old sailing ship. Original Cindy stood slightly behind her and to the side, using Max's lithe form as a wind block and watching the waves roll towards them, frothing around the prow of the ferry. Gulls, gray-dark smudges against the lighter gray of sky wheeled on the air currents divided by the ship. They coasted at its sides before diving down into the well churned water behind. Max's smile was bright as she dug in her messenger bag and pulled out a well broken packet of crackers. Ripping it open, Max pinched out a bit letting the crumbs drift out of her fingers towards the waiting gulls. She turned to offer the packet to Original Cindy. Cautiously Original Cindy picked a few pieces of cracker and tossed them over the side, peering after to see the gulls swoop past to snatch them out of the air. Ahead of them the island formed out of the fog, tall dark evergreens and the weathered wooden posts of the dock nearing the bow. Max grabbed Original Cindy's hand, pulling her cheerfully back through the sooty interior of the ferry to the car deck where they revved the bike and Max gleefully wove through the few cars ahead of them, jumping the last feet to the dock and taking off up the hill towards the rest of the island.
Original Cindy was glad when they finally stopped their flight past blurring trees and bushes. The roads were poorly paved, ill kept since the pulse. Max wove like a demon around pot holes causing Original Cindy's hands to spasm on her vest, clutching on for dear life. Max hopped of the bike, kicking the stand down in the same motion before offering a hand to the somewhat more shaky Original Cindy. She clambered off as well, thankful for the steady ground beneath her feet. They were on a long stretch of road along a bluff. Water bumped up against the slope beneath them, the bluff face was covered in yellowed, knee high, wild grass and the occasional fireweed, sweet pea and pearly everlasting. The few trees remaining around them on this section of road were twisted and bent with wind and time. The air was calm and the sky was slate gray without a true threat of rain.
Max started wandering up the road but Original Cindy could not bring herself to leave the view of the softly rolling water stretching out in front of her. A small flock of black birds floated near the shore, sometimes diving just out of sight under the waves.
"Hey, Come on." Max called and Original Cindy turned to find her a fair way up the road, waving. She followed. The road narrowed down, the pavement turning more broken until it might as well have been gravel or dirt. The road curved back in, hugging the hill and nestled in the next curve was a small house, painted white with red lettering on a sign above the door reading "Coney Island Ice-cream" in pealing red paint with the image of a sail boat with a teal and purple sail emblazoned on the sign. Max was grinning at what Original Cindy was sure was her incredulous look.
"It's good." Max pulled her up the stairs.
A small bell tinkled as they entered. Inside was dusty but warm, breathing life back into her fingertips and cheeks. Original Cindy hadn't realized quite how chilly it was outside. There was a glass case with assorted pastries and a small coffee machine and steamer. Behind the counter there was a chalkboard on which a menu was written in pink, yellow, blue, and green chalk, adorned with intricate drawings of sweet-pea vines and more sailboats. Max had gone immediately to the glass casing over the refrigerated ice-cream case. There were four tubs of ice-cream, which was really more than Original Cindy had ever seen in one place. They were labeled with purple in a spidery script: Vanilla, Double Fudge Chocolate, Honey Lavender, Huckleberry. Footsteps alerted them to entrance of another person. A man in a white apron, carrying a towel in one hand was standing in the doorway that seemed to lead deeper into the house.
"Max!" He greeted warmly, setting the towel down and stepping around the counter to clasp Max's hand. "Good to see you. Thought it might be you, it's that kind of day. And who is this?"
"This is my good friend Original Cindy." Max introduced.
"Nice to meet you Original Cindy, I'm Frank Sandal." Frank extended a hand which Original Cindy shook.
"I'm afraid the Missus is out to town today, picking up food at the market, but I'd be happy to send on your regards."
"Oh, please do. And how is she?"
"She's all right, all right. Tough old bird. Both of us I suppose. What'll you be wanting then? You can always have tasters."
"I'll have the Double Fudge Chocolate thanks." Max extended a hand with four crisp dollar bills.
"And what for you?" Frank turned to Original Cindy. She thought and pointed to the honey lavender, its smooth gold color attracting her eye.
"Can I try that?"
"Of course." Frank handed over a small wooden spoon with a bit of the ice-cream on the end. It tasted sweet on her tongue, and a little like the tea Kendra used to make when they stayed up late studying, or going over the budget to find just a little more wiggle room.
"I'll have a scoop of that." Cindy reached for her purse but Frank raised a hand.
"No, Max paid for both of you, I wont take no more of your money. You girls have yourselves a good afternoon." Frank produced the ice-cream cones with a flourish. Max grabbed them both with a smile and a wave, guiding Original Cindy back out into the cold.
They walked slowly back towards the bike. Even without wind, the chill began to nip at Original Cindy's cheeks. Her left hand, holding the ice-cream, was freezing. The gray bleakness of the island and the road and the water seemed insulating in a way, at odds to the warm glow of the ice-cream in the low light and the thick taste of honey on her tongue.
"So, Max, how'd you find out about this place? It's in the middle of nowhere."
"I dunno, I like being alone sometimes. What's farther away than an island? I was here once, just driving you know. I came around that corner and there it was, sitting quiet on it's own out here. It was like this then, maybe colder, raining a little and I thought I might like to be inside a bit. And then I met Jeanie, she's Franks wife. She gave me a slice of apple pie and ice-cream because I 'looked like something the cat dragged in'. I just, sometimes you go somewhere and you don't know you're looking for something, but when you find it, even in the middle of nowhere, you know that that's it." Max shrugged, biting off a piece of cone and tipping her head back to catch the remainders of the melted ice-cream sliding towards her mouth. Original Cindy licked her own ice-cream and thought about that. She stared out at the water, thinking how sometimes you can be looking to be alone, to be self sufficient, to run and run and run across the land and water and not know that you were just looking for the right people.