They Enter The Car
They enter the car. They enter the car, a family now, he driving, she holding Son. They enter the car, beaming at new life. They enter the car, he smiling and driving, she making faces at the baby in the car seat. They enter the car, toys and trash and stains and crying and yelling. They enter the car, the toddler angry, always angry. They enter the car, he driving, Mother holding baby Daughter. They enter the car, Son being told not to be rough with his sister. They enter the car, a newer one, New Car Smell, two toddler smell. They enter the car, no longer new seeming. McDonald’s fries, hard and cold to the touch, between seats, a ketchup stain on the roof. They enter the car going to school. They enter the car, baseball gear in the back, parts of a Barbie Doll, Lego blocks, candy wrappers, chocolate shake stains on the floor. They enter the car without Son and Daughter, going out, alone. Relief and anticipation jockey for first place in the pantheon of this experience. They enter the car with a box of leftovers from the restaurant placed gently on the backseat. They enter the car, fresh from a play hosted by the local community college; a performer sits in the backseat, the one not occupied by the box of leftover linguini. She chatters on about her role in the play and they listen, eagerly, before they drop her off at her Stepfather’s house. Once alone, they kiss, Mother and Father, pretending it is High School again.
They enter the car for Son’s driving test; he is anxious, but confident. They enter the car, son and Driving Instructor, he obeying most of the traffic laws, and thereby passing. They enter the car, Mother and Son, the latter driving, the former pressing her foot into the bare floorboard, stomping on an imaginary brake pedal, though not at all conscious of her action. They enter the car, Father and Mother, angry at one another for no reason either could specify were they to have to. They enter the car, Son and date, each tingling with excitement as they drive to the party. They enter the car, slightly buzzed, driving a short distance away before parking and clumsily engaging in a sex act. Then, after, they walk along the edge of the woods, holding hands, in the moonlight.
They enter the car, Daughter and three friends; a shiny new laminated Driver’s License in her purse, cell phone in her hand. Girls shrieking, girls yelling, girls giggling, girls texting. Daughter drifts into the lane of oncoming traffic, overcorrects and, tires squealing, the car flips over several times, landing in a field. All girls are hurt, one critically. They enter the car, somberly, the family dressed in black, Daughter arm in splint, to go to Erin’s funeral, as the critical injuries proved fatal. No one has a cell phone in their hand.
They enter the car to see Son’s new place. They enter the car, loaded with Son’s items, to take to his new place. They enter the car to go to Daughter’s wedding. They enter the car to see Son’s new baby boy, their grandchild. They enter the car, with a newly installed car seat for Grandson to sit in. They enter the car with Grandson firmly placed in the car seat, Mother making faces at the baby in the car seat. They enter the car, three grandchildren now, raucous, loud, and pleasant to Mother and Father. They enter the car to take Grandchildren back to Son and Daughter’s respective places, relieved they don’t have to spend all day every day with them. They enter the car, Mother and Father dressed to attend Father’s Retirement Party. Music is low and Mother talks non-stop. Father stares straight ahead, driving, not talking; only thinking of the past.
They enter the car, Father helps Mother into the passenger side of the car, as she is still weak from the chemotherapy. Before the drive is through, the faint smell of vomit is detected and the bag the hospital gave them is half full. They enter the car, Son driving Father to see Mother at the Extended Care Facility, he and Daughter make small talk but Father is silent and solemn. He does not show any particular expression.
They enter a car, Son and his Family. They enter a car, Daughter and her Family. The two cars drive to the funeral parlor, to arrange their parent’s burials. Father passed away in his sleep almost one week after Mother died in the hospital. They enter the car, the long car, the long black car, made especially for one lying in repose, Mother and Father each get one, both followed, slowly, by many other cars, headlights on, though it is daylight. Their destination is the final one for Mother and Father.
The cars change color and form, as do the passengers and drivers, and they leave the cemetery to go to houses, restaurants, and stores, sometimes entire families sometimes alone, and sometimes distracted, they enter the cars.