Evelyn hadn’t seen Steve in over 25 years. They’d dated in high school. He was the cool jock; you know the type. Mussed up hair, tight grungy jeans, a permanent smirk on his handsome face. Evelyn was the goody-good cheerleader, top grades, anxious about getting into the “right” school.
Steve was her one rebellious act before she left high school. As soon as she received the acceptance letter to Princeton, she relaxed. Okay. Now, time to explore before the all-on battle to succeed in college and beyond. Steve had been eyeing her all football season – he the linebacker, Evelyn the cheerleading captain. They finally “hooked up,” as the kids say these days, in the Spring. He was rough and funny, smart and streetwise. And surprisingly, Steve was sweet. Completely sweet on Evelyn. He even used the “L” word.
They dated all summer, and then yes, she basically forgot about him once she arrived at Princeton. She heard through the grapevine that Steve got kicked out of community college – drugs “hooked” into him, unfortunately.
Now, as the rumble of the humongous trash truck races around her cul-de-sac, leaving behind her very full trash cans in front of the house for the third week, Evelyn stares at the man hanging on to the back of the truck.
His eyes are cold. Hard. It seems personal.
Shrugging, Evelyn walks back into her house – the “Trumpian mansion,” as her daughter Shelby calls it. Shelby is quite disdainful of her parents’ way of living. Evelyn’s husband, David, derides his daughter’s contempt, but Evelyn understands it. In their expansive expensive home, the cold, distant, empty feelings curl tightly around the three of them. David and Evelyn dislike each other intensely, but he’ll never leave her, and she’ll never leave all that she’s worked so hard to acquire.
EXIT! That word sends Evelyn straight to the summer before college, when Steve implored her to never leave him. “I’m not just an exit from childhood to adulthood,” he’d said. “I’m your road to happiness. I promise you.”
Suddenly, Evelyn knows exactly who the garbage man is, hanging on the back of that truck, refusing to pick up her trash.
Steve. Oh, how he must resent her. Hate her, even. Finally, Evelyn has a goal in front of her. She rolls the heavy packed trash cans from the driveway back to the garage. She dials the number for the trash company. And she hatches her plan.