We lived in a little farmhouse on the outskirts of town. Dad was on the road as a truck driver, so it was mostly just mom, my little brother, and me. Mom’s life was not easy, especially with a constantly squabbling 13-year-old and 5-year-old.
I don’t remember the particulars, but I know my mom was having a Very. Bad. Day. We were unloading groceries, some of us more willingly than others. I’m pretty sure it was Forrest who whined about something – that’s all the kid ever did, in my opinion – when the gallon of milk exploded, slammed down by mom as the last of her patience disappeared.
Milk ran in rivulets off the counter and to the floor, drops cascaded down cabinet doors, plunking the counter before joining the white waterfall, and a light rain of milk drip-dropped from the blades of the ceiling fan.
“GET. OUT. NOW.” Mom said in that certain mommy-meltdown voice.
Forrest high-tailed it to his room while I made my way outside to hide in the hay barn. Sitting there, I decided to forgive mom for her tantrum and bestow my help upon her. And what better way than to empty the heavy bags of horse feed out of the trunk of the Buick? Doing this dreaded chore without being asked, I was sure to be back in her good graces!
Granted, mom always had me use the wheelbarrow, but the little shed seemed soooo far away, especially in the stifling Idaho heat. If dad were here, he would let me drive. He’d been teaching me (okay –he’d let me try once), and I’d driven the car down the long drive to the shed before.
Piece of cake! Except then it wasn’t.
You see, we had this goat who thought he was a dog.
As I was carefully backing the car out, having snuck the keys from mom’s purse, Pal jumped against my door, scaring the bejeezus out of me. Rather than stepping on the brake, I pushed the gas instead, slamming into my dad’s old truck.
Oh God, Oh God… I AM SO DEAD!
I got out and surveyed the damage. The truck was built like a tank but, sadly, the Buick wasn’t. Picking up slivers of taillight, I shoved them in the trunk, and reparked. Using the wheelbarrow, I continued on with my good deed, praying for what time I had left on earth.
Later, mom had cooled down and decided to treat us to dinner at our favorite restaurant, the Country Diner.
I was sweating bullets as we got in the car, but she never noticed the rear end, either then or at the restaurant.
“I’m home free!!!” I thought. “If she notices now, she’ll think it happened here.”
Much relaxed, we headed out for the drive home. Suddenly, a stillness filled the air.
Eyes blazing, mom looked at the mangled corner of the Buick, then back at me.
“TRACY,” she said in The. Scariest. Voice. Ever.
“WHAT DID YOU DO?!”