Late taking the kids to school, Daisy slowly released the brake as the shelves of paper towels and picnic paraphernalia, a leaning tower of colorful planting pots and an inside-out rubber glove slipped past her minivan window. Micah and Clara raucously argued over a “borrowed” scarf and who fed their frenetic dog, Digger, while Robbie shouted at his mom about remembering to pick him up late after some meeting or other. She stepped on the gas hearing the word “late” being shouted again when abrupt silence made the clatter and creaking of metal perfectly clear, not having quite cleared the garage door as it opened, as she scraped the lower panel along the roof rails.
It happened in seconds. Daisy and her three children were immobilized into their last action, jaws slackened in mid-word, arm extended awkwardly retreating from or toward a sibling, but all eyes opened wide.
The car was stopped in the driveway, the engine idling innocently, white exhaust roiled out the back on a cool autumn morning, dew drops stagnant on glossy leaves and purple petals. The silent quartet watched the door cease its noisy ascent, as it panicked over an obstruction and reversed direction to rise once again, finally stopping half way up, once again blocked.
“This is what happens when you guys drive me crazy with your stupid arguments!”
It was instinct. Only a mother can find a way to teach a lesson while she, herself, has unequivocally screwed up.
Daisy escaped the car, slamming the door, but not before hearing the car full of whispers: “Oh, my God” and “Holy crap” and “Did she just…”
The sky pressed low and white, the air cold but only her nose felt it. The rest of her was burning with fury over running late. What was it this morning? Clara, the youngest, forgot about an assignment due? Missing lunch boxes – “You better check lost and found at lunch!” Glasses misplaced? A pull-fight over a scarf and Robbie, the oldest and only boy, had been caught smoking the night before so that was still brewing in her, especially since her husband came home too late to discuss it and left early that morning because he had to hit the gym before work – had to! When did she get to go? In the isolation chamber of trauma, it was all on her shoulders. Everything. Now, add the garage door to the tally. Never mind the presentation she hadn’t fine-tuned last night thanks to Robbie’s surrender to cigarette company advertising aimed at teenagers and once again offered up first thing that morning. And now this.
The door looked pregnant. The last two white, horizontal panels had separated in places, suspended but not waving, longer on the right than the left.
The racetrack of thoughts revved up and began their speedy circles. The door has to close because I have to get the kids to school. I have to go to work. I don’t have time to wait for the repairman. Does Mike know a garage door repairman? Who the hell KNOWS a garage door repairman?
Her curls scooted inside her woolen coat collar as she examined the corners of the door as if they might reveal the mislaid epiphany: how everything on her list could be solved. If I leave it open, will the bikes get stolen? Will they break into the house? Clara can’t keep a secret and she’ll text her dad at work before I’ll ever get to explain it. The race continued as her car began bouncing subtly with three agitated children nearly late for school.
The exhaust enveloped her as she opened her car door, overpowering the tiny spritz of perfume left over on her linen scarf. Daisy didn’t look at her children whose commentary immediately ceased. She was surely more surprised over the predicament than they. She took the garage door opener from the visor, slammed her door, and approached the great white bulge, clicking her remote impatiently several times. If it didn’t close all the way every winter without pulling and pushing on it just so, it certainly wasn’t going to close now.
Tune back in on Tuesday, October 8, for the next installment.
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