[Our friends at the Light and Shade Challenge have posted a picture of a message in a bottle, and what sprung to mind what may or may not be part of my NaNoWriMo project to come. This story is called "I Want To Tell You"]
"Where did you get this?," he said to me.
I looked up at the officer, his chest broad and strong under the navy blue uniform. "BERRY," the patch said over one breast. He was holding the piece of blue paper in his hand, I assumed the same one I had handed in twenty minutes ago. I could hear a song about putting a little black dress on playing in the background. Behind him, her arms folded, was a female officer with short blond hair, scowling. I could not remember being this close to a police officer before, and it was intimidating. He looked down at me, his bald head shining in the artificial light, his face a mask. When I looked straight ahead, I could see his belt, the bulge beneath it, the black objects hanging from it, the silver of handcuffs, the solid grooved handle of his gun, squat and angular, hanging off his waist. I wondered what his personal life was like, if he was married, if cops cheated on their spouses as much as everyone said they did. I looked at the bulge beneath his belt again.
"Where did you get this?," he said again, his voice rough, almost a bark. I looked up at his face again. The words formed in my chest, in my throat. I had a sudden memory of watching "My Fair Lady" on TV, Rex Harrison mocking Eliza's father, "I'm willing to tell you...I'm wanting to tell you...I'm waiting to tell you!" The need to speak was a bubble of pressure underneath my breastbone. I wanted to explain, to say that I wasn't really involved, that this wasn't my idea, that I was just doing someone a favor, that it was so cold. I wanted to explain, to tell them how I needed to give Janine a ride because neither of us had jumper cables, how I drove her to Marvin's house, how he came outside to drive back to Janine's car and give her a jump start. I wanted to explain about how Marvin leaned into my car window, his breath full of smoke, and asked me to please drop this off for his auntie, that he wouldn't have time to do both before the pharmacy closed, and the twenties he handed me to pay for it, and how I stammered and finally agreed to do it.
I thought about how I almost never said no to anyone, how my life was a series of agreements I didn't mean to make, how I felt buffeted from currents I didn't understand, how I let things happen because it was easier than fighting back. I thought about Marvin, how I always felt uneasy around him, how his brown eyes turned sharp and angry when you said something he disliked, how Janine said Marvin really scared her sometimes, and I felt sad and sorry and very frightened, and I didn't say anything.