In the Prime
of Their Lives

The day we ran off was hot, early August, no air conditioner in my 1962 VW bus. It topped out at forty miles an hour, so the forty-mile journey took us more than an hour, during which we drove along, kind of stunned by what we were doing, sweating, saying little, staring ahead at the highway, other cars and trucks blasting past us in the left lane. Just over the state line we stopped at a Stuckey’s and bought a pair of gold-painted wedding bands for a dollar apiece.

Olivia wore her favorite pair of red and white polka-dotted bell-bottoms. None of her other pants fit, by then. The bell-bottoms were low-waisted, and Olivia was carrying high, so she wore them often. She never did gain weight. She seemed to lose it. She threw up every day, throughout the day, from the beginning. How she’d been hiding that from her mother, I had no idea.

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