We wound through Baton Rouge, June taking photos on her cell phone of all of the places Nia listed roadside that she’d wanted to see: a giant root beer mug hanging over an old fashioned diner, the capitol building, the old house at The Myrtles Plantation.
I knew she would have wanted to stop, to tread across that grass, to stand next to the marble pillars of the capitol and stretch her arms out wide around them. But she was the one who knew what she was looking for. I would have been the spectator, watching her eyes swell over the bare bark of a whipping tree, deep scars burned there by ropes, or watching her laugh as we trudged through a shallow swamp of bluebonnets, me plucking one from the muck and tucking it behind her ear.
But without her I couldn’t even make it out of the truck, viewing these snapshots of a life she’d never get to live from behind the dingy bug-smeared glass of the windshield. And every time I didn’t stop I could feel June’s and Carter’s eyes on me, waiting for me to say something, to explain the resolve that was enough to send me driving all over a strange city but not enough to get out and see it for myself.
It didn’t feel like it was for me, the sort of revelations Nia may have had in these places. I didn’t want them anyway. I just wanted her.