Directions, Part 5

“I prefer to walk.” Rune discovered that he was coming out of his slouch, was beginning to stand taller as he continued replying to the head of the man sticking out of the car window. “I know it’s a long way, but I like it. It’s about 45 minutes I get alone, time to think. It’s — relaxing.”

“You even walk in the rain?” The puppeteer in control squinched the man’s eyes. “Snow?”

Rune shrugged. “If it gets real bad, I’ll catch a ride with someone, sure.” He extended his arms to his sides, palm upwards. “But it ain’t raining now. Just a little cold — and that’s actually better, for walking.”

The face extended out the car window blinked, like a star gazer checking his vision after seeing what he thought was a comet through his telescope. Then he inhaled spit and mucus into his mouth, turned his head away from Rune (but along the path he would be walking), and spat.

“Suit yourself.” The head tucked into the car again, but was then forced back out by the puppeteer. “Oh, and thanks for the directions to the Sunoco!”

The car sped away from the side of the road, gravel spraying from the tires and landing a few inches in front of Rune. The teen waved, dug his hands back into his jacket. It was cold that evening, and Rune realized that if the offer for a ride had come from a relative, or one of his buddies on the fencing club (except for Double-J, of course), he would have accepted, welcomed and appreciated the offer in fact. Rune shrugged at the realization and resumed walking (making sure to avoid the wad of spit lying on the gravel), and came to another realization, that the man had pronounced the word Sunoco like snow cone.

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