The Exit Plan

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Chapter seventeen

She stretched out naked against my equally naked form. Her ebony hair fell in waves as it tickled my cheek and her long limbs intertwined in mine. Neither of us was tired but we weren’t as energetic to try it a fifth time.

“This Mustang has seen a lot,” I said, laying back on the smooth white leather. It didn’t seem as hard as it did a month ago when I first hitched a ride in it but it didn’t seem like the epitome of comfort either.

“Well yeah,” she said, running her hand over the mass of hair on my chest. “It has seen me live, Will. It has seen me speed and drink and make love inside its doors.”

I kissed her head as I tried not to think of how many times she had made love in the back seat of her Mustang and she drifted off into sleep. A million different expressions crossed her face as she slept and she tossed right, then left, fighting to find comfort. Chantel was not a peaceful sleeper. She was as expressive and indecisive in sleep as she was when she was awake.

Despite the sleet of last night, the sky was a clear blue. The leaves of our trees sprang to life in vivid light green hues as the wind carried their predecessors in my direction. Stepping out of the Mustang, I grilled a huge roll of boerwors and corn. The aroma travelled with the wind so that our neighbour’s four-year-old Pomeranian gave a few sharp barks our way. But Chantel didn’t stir.

The dog gave another bark and I tossed a sausage in his direction. I was really in a good mood. Ever since the tenth-grade, I always dreamt I would lose my virginity to none other but Chantel herself. I thought I’d be nervous, but nervousness decided to ignore this whole experience. I shuddered at the thought of her seeing my giant bulges and the fat that clung to my thighs. I concluded that she was either oblivious to it or that she didn’t mind it. My hopes were on the latter.

“Have I ever told you that I’ve been in awe of how intensely hot you are?” she said as she stroked my chipmunk cheeks.

“Oh Chantel, I didn’t think you were a liar.”

“You don’t believe me?” she asked as a look of skepticism ran across her face.

“Look at that bulge in my stomach,” I said, pointing to the peak of my fat. “Have you noticed that I have two chins instead of one or that my thighs have more oil in them than a Middle Eastern country? Have you noticed that I’m a mutant? I’m not hot Chantel.”

“Oh stop it,” she said as she rolled her eyes. “I never said that you weren’t hot because you have a bit of flesh in your bones and neither did I say you were hot in spite of it. I said you were hot because of it. You’re soft and attractive and I love you. It’s time you learnt to love yourself.”

She drifted off after saying this leaving me to get dressed and finish my chores. As I finished the bulge in my stomach gave its familiar sneer. It was a sneer that was put on to taunt me. I shook my head as I folded one of my dad’s shirts. Chantel said I was hot. She said I was hot with all my imperfections. Every time Zameer and his friends sneered at me, Chantel saw a man that was worth loving. I was worth loving.

As my mind mused on these thoughts a crack filled the air. It sounded like one of my mum’s hideous vases breaking. If Chantel smashed it for its lack of aesthetic appeal, I wasn’t complaining.

“Chantel?” I called but I got no answer. As I walked along the sitting room, the hall and the porch there was no sign of a broken ornament. As I reached her car I saw only Chantel holding a piece of the now broken bottle of Constantia. Blood escaped the cut on her arm as it flowed onto the white leather seat.

“What happened?” I cried as I watched a patch of the seat turn crimson. “Honey are you alright? I need to get some antiseptic for that cut of yours.”

“I’m such a mess,” she said as a tear rolled down her eye. “I’m a damned mess of a girl.”

“Is it because of Tristan?” I asked, wrapping my arms around her. I felt my heart shatter in my chest. Chantel, my Chantel, wracked by seismic pain, was more than I could handle. “Trust me, I’m not going to let him lay a finger on you. I’ll murder him. Okay, not literally but yeah, I won’t let him hurt you again.”

“It isn’t just Tristan,” Chantel said. “I want to know if he is truly gone. Or is the sensitive man I married still in there somewhere? Is he some fucked up mess or is it me?”

“You’re,” I opened my mouth to reassure but honesty forbade me. To say Chantel wasn’t a mess was like saying Natalie was stupid or that the North Korean Dictator was merciful.

“You can’t even say that I’m not a mess of a person,” she sighed before flouncing in one of my old shirts.

According to a recent census, the average height for a woman in this country is five foot two and a half inches. The average for a man is five six and although I was nearly a foot taller than the average height, my shirt still didn’t cover Chantel’s long body.

“Well, I’m sure Mrs. Scott next door would have her own opinion,” I joked. “Exposing yourself wearing only a short T-shirt isn’t what she would call healthy.”

Chantel looked over and gave a friendly wave to Mrs Scott before settling inside. I chuckled. She took an almost sensual pleasure in pissing people off. Especially if those people were stuffy, church going people like Mrs Scott.

“The most beautiful pleasure in life is taking the stuff out of stuffy,” she as she rummaged my refrigerator for wine. “That’s why I chose Tristan, you know.”

“You thought I was stuffy?” I asked.

“I thought you were heartless,” she said as she gave up her search. My parents were teetotalers who never allowed a single bottle of champagne into the house. Chantel was shocked. “You know you never expressed any sort of feeling. All you did was stay home and study and hang out with Aaron. Your world just seemed so…”

“Boring?” I finished for her but she just shook her head.

“I was going to say small.”

“I’m not Tristan,” I said. “I told you that on your balcony that day. But I love you and I swear I will do the impossible if that’s what it takes to make you smile.”

“I love you too,” she finally said. “Last night was not another drunken night. It was special, even if we spent it in the back of my car with sleet thundering over us. That night was the day I first alive. But there’s a piece of me that’s lost in the heavens. And I need to find it.”

I looked at her with a surge of protectiveness conquering my brain. This was not a girl who regretted her marriage and wanted a one night stand. She wasn’t a person who wanted to rip my heart into little strings. This girl felt that something was missing. That there was a piece in her that needed fulfilling. And I was going to help her find it.

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