“I want some fries.”
She would blurt out the most random things at times. We would be sitting in the living room with the curtains pulled and the only light being the glow from the screens, whether it was the television or the tablets. It would be late too, after midnight. When I thought she was going to tell me that we should head to bed, occasionally she would surprise me.
“Huh?” I’d ask, confused. Not that I didn’t know what she was saying just that it was so out of the blue I wanted to make sure I heard her correctly.
“Fries. Do you wanna go for a drive? I have this feeling deep inside of me that I need some fries right now. McDonald’s fries. Fresh. Crispy as hell.”
“O-kay,” I looked at her oddly, “you want to go out at nearly 1am to get fries?”
“All the way across town?”
“Okay then. I guess we’re going to get fries at 1am. Weirdo.”
She either didn’t hear the last part or ignored me.
Being out late at night in a small town is a combination of eerie yet magical. The streets are quiet and have been for hours and the only sign of life is the occasional outdoor cat you see peeking out of the bushes, it’s eyes glowing in reflection of your car’s headlights.
The few streetlights set to overnight mode, blinking yellow or red depending on what direction you’re coming from. They act as glorified stop signs for anyone passing before them. Cameras attached to catch the few ne’er-do-wells who feel if there is nobody around they don’t have to follow the rules.
We go out this late often. She enjoys the night and I don’t mind the company, even if we drive the entire way and say less than a few words to each other. Sometimes we won’t even pass another car the entire time we’re out. It’s as if we’re the only two people in the world awake, or in existence.
It’s fun to imagine a world like that. Where the population is dwindled down to 1% but you can still travel about as normal. That there are outposts set every so often when you can still get your McDonald’s fries and talk with other travelers. You trade stories and adventures then return to your own little home on a street with twenty other abandoned homes.
It’s fun because it’s safe. You don’t have to think of the reality of what the world being at such a small population would mean. How scare food would be and the impact of weather and sickness. Thankfully she’s not the type of person to introduce those kinds of real world questions to an exercise in fun imagination. She would rattle off other activities we could get involved in or takes us on an entire different path.
“There they are!” She would squeal, “the golden arches! Forged from the gold bullion held in the federal reserve since gold has no meaning now. Meant to light the way of weary travelers.”
I took my eyes off of the road for a second to look at her with an eyebrow raised.
“Where does your mind go sometimes?”
She ignored my comment, “onward! To fries!”
The place looked as empty as everything else, “are you sure it’s still open?”
She had faith though, “of course, the golden arches are shining bright. The beacon of hope wouldn’t beam in falsehood. Pull around, speak into the box of magic and request what was asked of you.”
I merely shook my head and pulled up to the ordering screen.
After sitting for a minute with no acknowledgement I leaned forward a bit and called out, “hello-o?”
A voice came back, “hi, sorry. We’re updating our registers for the night. It’s going to be a while.”
I looked back to her and saw her dejected face. She wanted fries. Her heart was set on fries.
“About twenty minutes.”
I looked at her again and smiled before speaking back into the screen, “we’ll wait.”
I turned to her and said, “we came all this way to get fries. The Golden Arches of Mickey D’s are shining bright. I say we camp out until they’re ready. What do you say, m’lady?”
She tried to stifle a smile and looked the other way, or at least I think that’s what she was doing. She nodded her head, “I think that would do just fine, thank you.”
We waited. It ended up being twenty-five minutes but we didn’t mind. The two of us sat in the early morning air exchanging ridiculous words in between stretches of silence. We didn’t need to continue talking to fill the quiet, only when we had something to say. She was my perfect company and even in silence I could sit with her and not want to change a thing.