It has been a very long day.
There has been so much excitement leading up to this day.
Now that the day itself is here, it’s mostly just long.
All day in the car with Mom.
A longer day than Mom promised.
Scary and exciting and overwhelming.
But mostly boring.
The girl stares out the window, but there is nothing to see but rain. Heavy blinding rain that erases the world. All sense of forward motion is lost as her sense of perspective vanishes in the rain. There are no landmarks, no horizon, no scenery . . . it’s all gone.
It’s like being in a car wash. Yes. The girl sits up straight, pleased with this realization. Yes! It’s like sitting in a car wash in the car. Forever. Going nowhere.
The girl presses her hand to the window, imagines the dark wetness on the other side.
She presses both hands against the glass. Presses hard, as though there might be a way to increase the space within the car by forcing the glass outward and bubbled. The space within the car is smaller than she would like it to be. The space within the car is smaller than she would like it to be, and the space is all jellied and thick with emotion.
It has been a long day.
The girl hates when Mom cries.
The girl hates when Mom pretends she isn’t crying.
The girl hates when Mom says the tears are happy tears.
The girl hates when Mom treats her like a baby.
She is not a baby.
Mom hates driving in the rain.
The rain has made the last part of this trip unbearable.
The girl wishes they would get where they are going. Mom promised they would be there by now. The girl wishes she could ask how much longer they have to go, but the last time she asked, Mom yelled at her. So even though she really wants to know how long until they get there, she is not going to ask again.
The girl reaches back to pet the sleeping dog’s ears. The rubbery velvet warmth is soothing, and she caresses an ear between her fingertips. She smoothes the warm velvet as the rain takes the world away and the space in the car stays smaller than she would like it to be.
She really wants to ask Mom when they will get where they are going.
She closes her eyes and tries to imagine their destination.
All she can see is the place from which they started.
She needs Mom’s help to imagine the place they are going.
The girl wishes she could ask Mom to tell her the story of where they are going. Mom paints pictures with her words that make it easier for the girl to see the things she has never seen. The girl wishes she could ask Mom to tell her the story, but she doesn’t want to be yelled at again.
She glances at Mom.
Everything about Mom suggests that she will yell.
The girl says nothing.
They travel down the freeway without appearing to move.
The rain falls.
The girl rubs the dog’s ears.
When will they get there?
The rain eases.
They exit the freeway.
The girl sits quietly.
Mom reaches over to put a hand on the girl’s knee, “I know you’re nervous, but it’s going to be alright. It’s a big change, but it’s going to be good. You’ll see.”
The girl knows that these words are meant to reassure both of them.
She smoothes the dog’s ear a final time, and then brings her hand forward to place it on top of Mom’s, “I know.”
These words are also meant to reassure both of them.