The Reading Circle

The Reading Circle by Ashton Lee

Book: The Reading Circle by Ashton Lee Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ashton Lee
Tags: Fiction, General
pressure; and that would require that he remain with the job he had and not run away from the challenges ahead of him.
    He also genuinely missed Maura Beth, and he wanted her back in his life. Whenever he said her name—sometimes silently, sometimes out loud—something inside of him seemed to vibrate pleasantly. Perhaps it was not too late. Perhaps he could still turn things around. He debated whether he should give her a call and let her know he was coming. In the end he opted to surprise her, hoping that would pump up her adrenaline enough to make it easy for her to forgive him. So he bounded out of his bungalow at precisely a quarter after three, climbed into the old Volvo he had brought back to life with his tinkering, and headed west on I-40 out of Nashville to the exit that would lead him to the Natchez Trace. Maybe he would even catch a break and not get stuck behind some tourist going fifty miles an hour on the scenic, but interminably winding, two-lane parkway.
    Jeremy had listened to his Debussy CD containing “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun” three times in succession now. It was one of his favorite classical pieces, and although it was only ten minutes in length, he never tired of its soothing, delicate passages. Sometimes he thought how miraculous it would be if he could somehow live inside those strains, inhabit those melodies in a way no one had ever thought of before. In effect, he would become the music.
    But it was going to take more than Debussy at his best to get his little Volvo past the hulking white Winnebago with the blue Michigan license plate that had caused him to suck its exhaust fumes for the past twenty miles. GREAT LAKES, it read on the bottom of the plate, and Jeremy found himself wishing that this thing hogging the road in front of him was on the bottom of one of the Great Lakes right now.
    He was falling further behind his ETA in Cherico by quite a bit. At this rate he would be walking into The Cherico Library with the Forrest Gump review well under way, and he definitely did not want to reenter Maura Beth’s life coming off like someone who could not be bothered to show up on time.
    He remained focused enough to know that honking his horn and flashing his high beams off and on would do him no good. That was what jackasses given over to road rage liked to do. That said, there were long stretches of the picturesque parkway that had obviously not been designed with passing in mind. It was a project that forbade commercial traffic of any kind—truckers beware!—and any emphasis on speed, therefore, made no sense. Every now and then, there were roadside exhibits prepared by the National Park Service that allowed vehicles to pull over and partake of history lessons regarding this important pioneer link between Nashville and Natchez; but unfortunately for Jeremy, none had appeared in quite some time.
    â€œOkay, Michiganders!” he said out loud, leaning into the steering wheel. But he knew whoever had invested in that monstrosity—and it was usually retired couples traveling around to see the countryside at their leisure—had not deliberately plotted to be in front of him as they both headed south. So there was more frustration than anger in his tone of voice. If only he had left the house five minutes sooner. Maybe even a minute or two earlier. He might well be ahead of them now, giving them the slip in his rearview mirror.
    With no choice but to follow, he lost himself in thought. What did you call people from Michigan? Were they Michiganders or Michiganites? Did it matter? He was still trapped behind them and powerless to do anything about it. Nonetheless, he decided to keep thinking of them as Michiganders.
    He recycled Debussy, hoping that the music would keep him calm. Or at least calmer than he would have been otherwise. Both vehicles and their passengers were starting to lose the light, and if anything, the Michiganders slowed down even more

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