You smell cow manure even with the wind beating your face at 70 mph. Skip brought me here. Nighttime in the corn fields. White trash faerieland. I haven't been on this road in years, but the bike knows the way.
I pull through rows of adolescent corn and stop.
“Where are we?” Annie asks, dismounting.
“Starcatcher's Rock,” I say. “I used to hang out here. With guys.”
She walks around it, puts her fourteen-year-old palms against its ancient face.
“It's pretty,” she says. I nod. Wet my lips. Skip brought me here young, young enough I only wanted to watch the sky.
She perches on the rock, doesn't look at me.
“Do you regret it?”
“What? Messing around?”
“Having me. Giving me up.”
“Sure,” I lie. She waits. “Okay, no. I don't regret it. You were a cute baby.” I sit at her feet. “But I wanted to go out on Friday nights. Go to prom. Maybe college.”
“Did you? Go to your prom?”
I shrug. “Yep. Hot pink dress. Big hair.”
“How about college?”
“Yeah. Nursing degree. Obstetrics.”
She sighs. Starlight drops into her dirty blonde hair. Did she inherit that wistful look or is it something all of us born here share? Skip said I had dreamland eyes. To see them in this stranger, my daughter, catches me off guard.
“Do you want to head back?” I ask.
“Not really,” she says, and hops off the rock, heads toward the bike.
“Me neither,” I say, and follow her.