The truck stalled for what I think might have been the tenth time but I had lost count. It was at that point Mom said she thought I’d never learn to drive a stick-shift and that she didn’t know what the hell we would do if I didn’t because I needed to work and she wouldn’t be able to drive me herself while she was at work. She was at work most the time.

It’s times like this I wish your Dad was here, she said. She was angry and so I was, too.

I wish he was here all the time, I said.

Well, he ain’t. If he wanted to be he would, but it’s just me and you’re gonna have to start helping out, she said and started to cry.

She didn’t weep. She never wept in front of me, but I’d heard her at nights when she thought I was sleeping—not often but sometimes. There in the truck, which she had found on Craig’s List for 500 dollars and bought for my use, her neck reddened and her eyes watered without losing their tears. That’s how she cried when I could see.

We sat for a moment in silence.

I’m sorry.

She said nothing.

Mom, I’m sorry.

Just start the truck and try again—I gotta be at work in an hour, she said.

I would stall three more times before I drove it up the driveway, but she made it to work on time.


2 thoughts on “Stick-Shift

  1. I’ve recently been flooded with feelings of immense appreciation for my parents and the time they have put into raising me well, so this story really resonated with me because of the allusion to the dynamics of parenting and growing up. Upon my third reading, my neck was red and my eyes were as watery as the mother’s.

    1. Thanks for reading and for the comments, “Todd.” It took me a bit to realize who you are. I teach all the Creative Writing courses at Swain now, but our first little group is still my favorite. You should be writing; I hope you are.

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