There are several high-spending-limit credit cards in my wallet that say I don’t need to work, but going to an ATM or charging purchases to the accounts would alert my parents to my whereabouts, and I’ve chosen not to do that. Just like I chose to throw my ringing cell phone out the window while speeding through Savannah. My parents will use every ounce of guilt under the sun to make me turn this Range Rover around, which means I simply cannot speak to them. Not until I have a better plan than driving until somewhere looks inviting enough to stop.
Yes, I am officially on the lam.
Which means I’ll need money. There’s a wad of spending cash in my honeymoon suitcase, but after gas, lodging and food, it won’t see me through longer than a week.
My bladder is jostled by a bump in the road and I let out a whimper. All right. I guess I’m doing this. I’m walking into a gas station in a Pnina Tornai and availing myself of the public toilet, no matter the sanitary conditions. Someone will probably film me on their cell phone, the video will go viral, and I won’t have to worry about being tracked through my Amex. The internet will just send my mortified parents after me lickety-split.
After pulling over into the closest space to the mini mart connected to the gas station, I take a bracing breath and step out of the Rover—
My left heel gives way beneath me and my backside hits the concrete. Ouch.
And Lord help me, I pee a little in my panties. I’m no match for the jostling.
A hand appears in front of me, and I’m hauled to my feet by an older gentleman in a Jaguars cap. “You, uh…doing all right there, ma’am?”
“Yes.” I smile and bat the wrinkles out of my dress. “This isn’t what it looks like.”
The older gentleman’s wife stands off to the side, cradling a bag of Cheetos to her chest. “What is it, then?”
“Oh, you know…” I say weakly, bypassing them toward the market. “All my other clothes are at the dry cleaners.”
Walking down the halogen-lit aisles of the packed mini mart toward the bathroom, I truly consider turning around and driving back to Charleston. My tailbone is pounding, I think I ripped the seat of my wedding dress—I’m just praying my pee-specked panties aren’t visible to all and sundry. My broken heel has left me in a lop-sided limp. Four hours left to my own devices and I already look plain pitiful. And I have no plan.
I pick up a bag of something called Funyuns on the way to the bathroom and open them, shoving a crunchy, onion-flavored ring into my mouth. “Oh,” I mumble around the bite, looking down at the bright yellow bag. “These are really good.”
When there’s no one in the bathroom, I whisper a thank you to the man upstairs and carefully roll up my Funyuns, leaving them on the counter. I’ll have to get money out of the car to pay for them, not to mention perform a second walk of shame, but pay for them I will. I might have left a church full of people in the lurch, but I draw the line at shoplifting.
A split second before I close myself in the stall, a young woman about my age walks in and does a double take. “Nice dress,” she says, scratching the corner of her eye. “You need some help?”
“That’s really not necessary.”
She comes forward anyway. “You need help or half of the skirt will end up in the toilet.”
Her bluntness turns my face hot, but manners keep me from declining a second time. “Very well, thank you.” We enter the handicapped stall out of necessity, thanks to our need to fit my giant skirt and two full-grown women. It helps that my gas station savior seems very no-nonsense about the whole operation, simply yanking up my skirt while I die a little inside. Because her soft chuckle tells me she’s definitely seen the pee spot. “Got a little excited, huh?”
“Something like that,” I croak, tugging down the white, silk underwear from the back waistband. Deciding I have nothing to lose, I bury my face in the gathered abundance of my dress and sigh as my bladder gives up the fight. Oh Lord. That feels good. “This afternoon, I was getting a pre-wedding massage and doing photoshoots in a rooftop garden,” I say, my words muffled. “Now I’m peeing with a stranger in a mini mart in—where are we?”
“Oh. What a lovely town you have here.”
“I’m from Clearwater.” I cringe over my conversational hitch and the fact that I am still nowhere near being finished relieving myself. Needing to fill the non-silence, I start to say how unseasonably cool it is when my savior clears her throat. “You need to talk about anything?”