Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 399
When the unnamed young woman waits on the floor of the pickup, she tells Jack that there are dozens of pop tops littering the floor, saying, "Some little kid could cut a bare foot on one of these, Jack." Jack's response is pretty gross. He replies, "No little kids get into this truck except for you." Though this young woman is eighteen, Jack seems to think of her as a child: he's even given her a diary with a key for her birthday, a rather juvenile sort of gift. Perhaps Jack has had this affair, in part, because he's attracted to the young woman's relative innocence. However, their sexual relationship does, in truth, amount to rape, making Jack a criminal; the young woman doesn't seem to be aware that he has taken extreme advantage of her naivety. While his attraction to innocence can be, perhaps, understood, given his own pessimism, cheating on his wife with a young woman who was a minor (until today) cannot.
In the end, Jack believes that the young woman will write about how much she loves him today, but that, in one year, she'll write,
I wonder what I ever really saw in Jack. I wonder why I spent so many days just riding around in his pickup.
Then, in two years, he thinks that she'll write that she doesn't even remember his name. This is probably realistic, and Jack takes a pretty cynical and unromantic view of the future of this relationship (if we can really call it that). The young woman, however, believes that she'll write in a year that she cannot wait for him to come home. In two years, she'll write about their son, "Little Jack," and, in three years, she'll write about their daughter, "Eliza Rosamund," who has breath that "smells like vanilla."
While Jack is somewhat charmed by the young woman's optimism and hopes, he says that he doesn't believe her version of events over his own. His words finish the story:
And her breath would smell like your milk, and it's kind of a bittersweet smell, if you want to know the truth.
While the young woman dreams sweet dreams of an idealized and perfect future together, Jack knows that it wouldn't be true. And though he must, on some level, be attracted to her innocence, he cannot keep himself from ruining it, just a little bit.
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