red farm with the road, blue sky and green field
by Brandy Wilkinson

I’m fifteen, behind the wheel of
My father’s gold Dodge Aries,
Newly-minted Learner’s Permit folded neatly in my pocket.
Dad is in the passenger seat, fingertips tapping denim knees.
“You go over the edge,” he warns,
Pointing at the gravelly lip of pavement ahead,
“You’re going home in a wrecker.”
He raises both hands, fingers outstretched
Toward the double yellow.
“Across the center,” he continues, “ambulance.”
I’m not sure my back ever touches the beige cloth of the driver’s seat
As I fight, ten and two, to stay between these lines.
“Ambulance,” he prompts, voice calm, as the car bears slightly left.
I try to not overcorrect.
He is man of few words, always, and especially now
As I navigate the narrow country roads that
Feed the highway.
I respond each time,
Bringing the wheels gently back to center,
Where he says nothing.
My eyes do not leave the road, but I cannot miss
The steady tick of his jaw, and how
Each time a curve appears, his foot twitches,
Reaching for the brakes he knows aren’t there.

PHOTO: “Country Road in Indiana” by N. Bixer, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: While nerve-wracking at the time, my dad’s prompts kept me engaged and alert behind the wheel, and I appreciate his willingness to let me grow up a bit during the process.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brandy Wilkinson is a mother and writer living in Indiana with her husband, their children, some motorcycles, and one elderly Italian Greyhound. Some of her words are at Literary Mama and others are coming to Mothers Always Write. She tweets from @brandy_wilk.