Lots in Life

There is nothing more embarrassing than waiting in a parking lot in California. It is the mark of a “loser.” Of someone so incompetent and broke ass they couldn’t even manage to 1) buy (but probably lease) a car or 2) secure a ride that gave enough of a shit about them. When she had asked her brother to take her to the clinic, she didn’t really think it would be necessary for her to specify that he should wait for the duration of what would be a brief “procedure.” With the times being what they were (that is to say, pandemic times), she supposed he was actually relieved he had an ironclad excuse not to go in. He would only end up hitting on some poor girl just trying to get an abortion in peace. That was Ezra’s way. And Lelia’s way, apparently, was to fall for douchebags and their lines when they promised they would pull out and that a condom was superfluous. Why kill the ambience? Right there, next to the Griffith Observatory, like they were filming some X-rated version of Rebel Without A Cause.

Lelia had ample opportunity to reminisce about that night as she waited in the parking lot. While she could have gone back inside to “expect” in an entirely different way, all she wanted was to get the fuck out of that place and never think about it again. But her brother was nowhere to be seen when she stepped out. Again, she had made the false assumption that he would simply still be there, standing by. Parked in his car. Not so. Thus, to mitigate her humiliation, she opted to walk down a small stretch of the sidewalk in order to get to a more socially acceptable parking lot–the one outside of the McDonald’s.

One could argue all the land was a giant McDonald’s parking lot. That was what had become of the Golden State in its constant need to sell itself to the highest bidder. Bidders came and went, of course, at least in terms of the clout they still held, but the telltale signs of their once great influence remained dotted all over the state like unignorable pock marks. This parking lot was one of them, and Lelia, in turn, was her own kind of pock mark inside of it. She could have wrung Ezra’s neck for making her endure this kind of mortification. This sheer torture of being “put in her place” in a manner so specific to California. While, sure, all the United States operated on a “car is king” philosophy, there was no other state where it had been so romanticized as the end all, be all. And, in fact, was. Even to this day, despite cries of making vast improvements to public transportation that would help “save” the environment. As though it hadn’t already been pushed off a building long ago. Trying to take “small steps” to make a “big difference” was tantamount to a person attempting to jump off the building themselves and save the damsel in distress that was the environment. Still, Californians did more than most to soothe their anxiety regarding that pesky subject of climate change. Yet how would anything ever change if there were too many interests still tied to fossil fuels? This, too, was one of many thoughts allowed the pleasure to cross Lelia’s mind as she continued to wait.

And wait and wait. She had messaged him thirty minutes ago now, and he had quickly returned that he was “just around the corner.” In Ezra’s estimation, everything was “just around the corner.” Maybe to all men, it was in keeping with an “everything is just within reach” mentality. If only they were willing to take their hand off their dick long enough to do so. It seemed Ezra certainly wasn’t, which was part of why he must have been late. For all she knew, maybe he had stopped off in his own parking lot to give himself a quick “release.” She wouldn’t put anything past her brother at this point, and yet, in this scenario, he was the only person she could turn to. Telling anyone else about what had befallen her was out of the question. Not even her closest friend, Serene (actually quite the opposite of the adjective her parents had chosen for a name), could be trusted. She was liable to blab to everyone. It would start small at first, like all leaks, and then quickly start spreading at an unstoppable rate. Lelia couldn’t take that chance. She had to go to the one person who would likely forget she ever even had an abortion once enough time passed (say, a week–gotta love Stoner’s Memory when you’re looking for absolution).

Now here she was, paying the price for her limited options in terms of being able to confide. That price was the additional embarrassment of being put in a position where she might be spotted outside the clinic. Incriminating indeed. Even being in the McDonald’s next to it was. In fact, Lelia had heard jokes about a girl a while back who was seen eating there while another popular girl drove by in the passenger’s seat of her mother’s Mercedes. Caught carefreely noshing on a Big Mac was bad enough for a cheerleader, but to be seen doing it in an establishment right next to the place where fetuses were laid to rest made it all the worse. The next day at school, the rumors were swirling about “Preggo Meggo” (her name was Megan). Especially since she didn’t show up so as to be able to defend herself or prove wrong the theory of her so-called friend, Lizzy. At least karma came back to haunt the latter a semester later, when she was caught under the bleachers getting fingered by an overweight band geek. Lizzy the Lezzy was her nickname for the rest of high school.

Oh God, how Lelia wished she didn’t have time to think about these things. Her mind was a flurried and fractured wreck. All she wanted was to go home, crawl into bed, pull the covers up and never talk to anyone again. Let alone ever have sex again. It was obviously more trouble than it was worth. And if any guy ever tried to pull some line–some fucking sad attempt at romance–on her again, she would laugh right in his face. Then maybe she would vomit, too. For fuck’s sake, where the hell was Ezra? More minutes passed, until they grew into a full hour. She was actually getting pretty goddamn hungry and contemplating cobbling together the eighty-five (please God, let it at least be ninety-nine) or so cents she had left to see what that might get her (at the bare minimum, a seat in some demure corner) at the McDonald’s.

Having lost all sense of shame by now, she was recklessly slapping down dimes, quarters, pennies, nickels–anything she could dump out of her purse, really–on the sidewalk and counting them as she cried. She cried not just for herself and maybe even for the child she killed (yet also spared from the cruel fate of having to live), but for how pathetic existence in general was. All summed up by being reduced to this moment: marooned in a parking lot. Forced to ask for help, yet not getting it despite her desperation being well-known. That’s really what made it all so much worse. The reiteration that no one cared, even when she expressed a need to be cared for.

As the tears continued to flow, she gathered her change up and started to walk inside the Death Factory (over Billions and Billions of Heart Attacks Served). It was at that moment when Ezra pulled up, rolling down his window to call out to her, “Hey slut! Get in the car.” She was grateful that he was there, and also that no one was around to hear him address her in such a way. And as she reached for the handle to pull it open and, at last, get inside, he started to drive away a bit. Continuing to fuck with her. Screaming like a newborn baby and gathering all her strength from the accumulated rage, she bashed in the window (using a combination of her elbow and the hardware on the front of her purse) to unlock the door herself.

Sitting in the front seat, she looked straight ahead–her arms and torso covered in blood–and, without ever turning to make eye contact, said only, “Just fucking drive.”

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