The Third Wheel

December 16, 1896
Penelope Sumter

“What is she doing here?” I demanded.

Wilbur glared at me with annoyance blatant in his eyes. Elizabeth bit at her lip and looked as if she wished to be anyplace but where she was. On this we were agreed.

“Where are your manners?” Wilbur demanded back.

“I don’t see how we have time to go to New York and still make it home in time for Christmas.” I said.

“She is going to Florida and I told her we would take her as far as Charleston.”

“There is a train station just outside of town. Why can’t we drop her there?”

“Because I said so. Now stop being so rude.”

I climbed into the automobile next to Wilbur and decided it was time to keep my thoughts to myself. No point in making a scene especially when it is obvious there will not be a satisfactory result.

Wilbur took several minutes to arrange my bags in the boot. He must have been in a good mood because he did not complain I was taking too much. Still looking annoyed, he slammed the boot closed and got in behind the driving wheel. Moments later we were cruising toward home.

“I thought you two were friends.” Wilbur said.

“We’re roommates.” We replied in unison.

“Why is everyone assumes because we share a room, we are friends?” I continued alone.

“You are friends.” Wilbur said.

Elizabeth remained notably silent.

“Says who?” I asked.

“Anyone who ever watches the two of you interact.” Wilbur replied.

“Looks can be deceiving.” I said.

“Do you really dislike me that much?” Elizabeth asked.

“No, that’s not what I’m saying.”

“Then what are you saying?” Wilbur asked.

“Nothing.” I said.

“That generally works better when you keep your mouth shut.” Wilbur said.

I gave him my annoyed look and then stuck my tongue out at him. Elizabeth giggled. Wilbur stopped the automobile. You would think on the way home for Christmas he would have a sense of humor at least.

“If I have to stop the auto again, you’ll be going over my knee. Understood?” Wilbur said.

“Yes, Wilbur.” I replied.

“That goes for you also Miss Bassett. I expect the two of you to be well behaved for the entire trip and if you can’t manage it, I will do so for you.”

“Yes, Mr. Sumter.” Elizabeth replied.

“As for you,” Wilbur shook his index finger in my direction, “ I believe you owe Miss Bassett an apology.”

“What for?” I asked.

“For being a rude, inconsiderate brat.” Wilbur said.

“I was not.” I said.

“Were too.” Elizabeth said.

“Was not.” I said.

“Were too.” Elizabeth said.

“Enough!” Wilbur shouted.

“Relax Will, It’s almost Christmas.” I said.

He shook his head at me.

“I must be crazy to be driving with two women.”

Elizabeth and I were smart enough not to agree verbally although we were both nodding our heads. Wilbur decided to ignore it and started the car again. I know I should not feel like I do about Elizabeth being with us. Maybe I am jealous of her growing relationship with Wilbur or maybe I just needed some time away from her. Either way, it will be a long trip home and I am sure Wilbur will be stopping along the way.

We were all silent for a few miles. I guess we all had our own thoughts to keep us busy. Mine were about pushing Elizabeth out of the automobile while we were still driving. I can only imagine what her and Wilbur were thinking.

"Are we there yet?" Elizabeth asked.

My head nearly hit the dashboard, Wilbur stopped so fast. I would like to say I enjoyed watching her get spanked. Unfortunately, it was obvious they were both enjoying it way too much. I am not quite sure how I can be a third wheel in an automobile built on four, but I am.

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