Talking Story

new driver


I’m not sure if it’s his hands on the steering wheel or me in my seat, but the rain is turning to sleet as we wind up the canyon. I give him side-eye, my son now taller and broader than me with his shiny new driver’s license tucked in his wallet. His arms are relaxed, but I can see the tension in his jaw, the same line his father gets when I remind him about trash or the need to buy horse feed.

Pushing my foot through the passenger floorboards, I’m stressing him out.

I take a deep breath and count to five, but it comes out as a sigh.

His eyes get squinty and his shoulders hunch forward.

I count to ten this time and try not to breathe too loud.

When did I last check the tires?

“So you excited about speaking at the conference?” he asks.

“Really more trying not to throw up,” I say.

“You’ll be fine,” he tells me. “Want to stop for Coke or something? It might settle your stomach.”

When did we switch? Aren’t I supposed to be the one driving the car, reassuring, and giving dubious medical advice?

On one hand, there’s a maternal pride that I have shepherded a fussy, unwilling to nurse infant into a capable young man.

But I’m a really crappy backseat driver and the trickiest s-curves are coming up.

“Roads are getting a little slick,” he says. “I better ease off the gas a little.”

I count to three and think about daffodils and spring. It’s gonna be fine.

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