It’s Cory’s idea to drive a Vanagon around Iceland to save his marriage. He couldn’t have known that the rental agency only had stick shift Vanagons, that Natalie—the only standard transmission driver between them—would have to be the one to drive the entire circumference of Iceland.
‘Iceland? More like wholly barren Crapland,’ Natalie says.
Cory cringes. He navigates Natalie past pungent mudlands to Reykjavík’s famous hot springs, hopeful for their claims of restorative powers. Restoration – isn’t that what all marriages need after a decade?
Cory delights in the vision of Natalie entering Reykjavík’s pool, pleased she’s chosen to be naked. Her belly is deflated. Steam catches inside her curls, freezes into a thousand icicles.
For a moment, Cory feels everything – heat, vapors, the soft rub of Natalie’s elbow against his, the stony quiet of their loss – then, finally, peace.
It’s the too-rapid flush of Natalie’s skin that drives them out of the pool and back into the Vanagon.
‘I can’t feel the freakin’ wheel,’ Natalie says, waving purpled hands. ‘You’re going to have to shift.’
And so they make their way along Iceland’s circumference like that – Natalie clutching, Cory steering and shifting, the occasional misfire and correction, the tiniest breath of frost between them.
MICHELE FINN JOHNSON’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Colorado Review, Mid-American Review, Puerto del Sol, Necessary Fiction, SmokeLong Quarterly, Flyway: Journal of Writing & Environment, and elsewhere. Her work previously won an AWP Intro Journals Project. Michele lives in Tucson with her husband, Karl, and is working on a creative nonfiction collection.
www.michelefinnjohnson.com / t: @m_finn_johnson