The jeep tilts back and forth as its treaded wheels dip into potholes and other signs of wear and disuse. They're not supposed to be here. That's part of the point. If they're not supposed to be here, no one will look for them here, and they won't get caught. The signs along the road tell them they are trespassing. They know.
This road leads behind a railroad track, under a bridge. It's for maintenance staff only, but the jeep handles the terrain fine. The road turned from pavement to gravel several minutes ago, and now it turns into mud. They can hear it squish under the tires. Four-wheel drive is a blessing.
They're here to park. You know, old school park. It'll be exciting, bring some spice into their lives. It's almost exciting already, just going somewhere to do it. It's the middle of the school and work day - two o'clock on a Wednesday. It's overcast. Logically, they know that doesn't give them any more security but it feels like it does.
It rained yesterday, so the river line is up a little higher than usual, and the mud is soupy where the water must've been last night. The air is still cool and damp; they felt it when she snuck out of work and he held open his car door for her. If they opened a window, they could probably hear the echoes of the traffic on the bridge bouncing off of the water. If they opened a window.
There is another car already here - a jeep-like SUV, metallic orangey-red, the left back tire looking like it might need a little air. There's no one inside.
Two women - or maybe a woman and a girl? - are holding hands as they traverse the water's edge. They slip and slide in the mud, almost falling more times than can be counted. The older one of them is wearing slippers and pajamas, the younger a brightly colored dress. She lifts the hem of it daintily and leaps around, stumbles over a few loose rocks, and then runs back to her companion, who hugs her.
Are they mother and daughter? Sisters? Best friends? Girlfriends? They act like all three; they've done all but kiss each other. The one in the dress says something with a certain kind of glint in her eyes; the older scolds her and she looks contrite, grinning sheepishly. They laugh it off, giggle and cling to each other. Then the one in the slippers says something serious and regards the younger curiously as she nods in agreement, as if deferring to her authority. Their fingers lace together again and they walk back toward their SUV at a sedate pace, winding and weaving around each other in a way that is random and yet still seems to have a pattern just because they anticipate each other's next moves so well. They talk as they go, alternating easily between things that make them laugh and things that have them staring at the ground with straight faces as if there is no real difference between the two. Maybe there isn't.
She turns to her driver. He is watching the two women/woman-and-girl too. The watery light highlights his features, bluish-grayish but still bright. He has a cute button nose that he probably gets made fun of for by his peers, pale skin that is remarkably clear, soft dark hair that falls unorganized across his forehead. He turns to her and the light bounces around in his dark eyes. He won't say it first, and she knows it. She could easily take advantage of him.
"My husband will be expecting me for dinner," she says, even though it's still barely two fifteen and no one sane and under sixty will be thinking about dinner for hours.
"I'll take you home then, ma'am." His politeness is a little weird and strained, reveals the nervousness he was hiding. She magnanimously ignores it and he turns his jeep around and his keys clang against the dash as the car sways in and out of holes again. He has a keychain of his high school graduation year, 2013, and the fake rhinestones on it sparkle garishly. She pretends not the hear the relief in his voice, refuses to wonder if he's ever had sex before. Now is both too late and too early to feel guilty. "My little sister will need me to pick her up soon anyway." In an hour, that is.
She thinks of her own children. They pass a small circle of rocks attended to by a few broken bottles and a flattened beer can. He checks it out with keen interest, then glances at her quickly to see if she noticed, as if now that he's not going to sleep with her she's suddenly a real adult who will enforce rules on him and he has to pretend to be a good kid in front of her. But he is a good kid, and she should've been a real adult all along. She smiles softly and lets him think he's fooled her.
She slides open her window a crack, lets the air in. It smells like rain and like old leaves; rotting and fresh, old and new. In the distance, the two women laugh and love each other. She thinks maybe she might love them a little bit too.