“It’s only sixty-five through here, people,” Chandler called out in his typical road rage fashion. “I’m going seventy and these guys are passing me like we’re standing still. Idiot!” He yelled at the guy in a Corvette who had zipped past, dangerously close. As if the guy could hear him. The only person affected by his tirade was Janette and she had already given up trying to convince him not to shout at other drivers.
She knew to just shut up and wait for Chandler to calm down. Yelling at him for yelling at them would just anger him more. He had enough stress dealing with the jerks drag racing through the complicated maze of crisscrossing expressways over downtown St. Louis.
Janette glanced fondly up at the Gateway Arch gracing the St. Louis skyline remembering with fondness that afternoon during their senior trip when she and Chandler had lain on their backs in the grass gazing up at the blue sky and dreaming of their future. Their final summer before the end of childhood and the beginning of college. Before the real world intruded on their idyllic life. Before careers and babies and mortgage payments and responsibilities. Back when life was as wide open as the blue sky above the Gateway Arch. Right there in the grass Chandler had looked at Janette like she was the only woman in the world and the only thing that mattered in his life.
He sat up halfway and propped himself on his elbow then leaned down and kissed her. He kissed her much more passionately than he should have in front of the hundreds of pedestrians moseying through the Gateway Park beneath the Arch.
Maybe the open aired freedom of knowing they couldn’t be tempted to go too far allowed him to shed the inhibitions usually holding him back. His commitment to purity before their marriage was admirable but restricting. She remembered wishing they were all grown up and married and could let that kiss continue long into the night. Now twenty-five years later she longed for that feeling to return. She wanted to experience that youthful passion and abandon.
As they passed through downtown St. Louis, the Arch disappeared in her rearview mirror and Janette realized Chandler was no longer grumbling at other drivers and seemed at peace. Maybe he was remembering that afternoon as well. Maybe he missed that blissful innocence also. She pulled her gaze and attention back to the road in front of them.
Just in time for the black Corvette that had zipped past them to careen into the guardrail, then overcompensate in the opposite direction, spinning into the lane directly ahead of them. Chandler’s arm reached across the front of her as if that alone could protect Janette from the oncoming crash.
“Hold on!” Chandler called out as he slammed on the brakes and Janette braced herself for impact.