Wednesday, May 7, 2014


The wheels on the Thompson’s minivan are covered in mud. The kind of mud that will stay there for years.
Nancy is behind the wheel. She is driving her four daughters. Her four daughters are unaware that their mother has been crying, on and off for hours now. The crying is normal. The car ride is normal. They are thirty miles outside of Flagstaff and Nancy’s crying stops. She throws off her sunglasses and smiles.

Caroline and Lily are the youngest. Rachel and Sydney are the oldest. Caroline is listening to her tape player. She is the only girl in school without a Discman. Caroline’s finger presses down on the stop button. It makes a sound like knuckles are being cracked. Lily is coloring Belle’s skirt purple. The crayon spills out over the lines. Caroline takes her headphones off her head and says, “Belle’s skirt looks ugly purple.” Lily doesn't hear this, and starts to color Belle’s hair green.

The minivan passes a billboard. There is a picture of a woman in her underwear. Nancy starts to cry again. Rachel is reading a book. With one hand she is turning the page. With her other hand she gives her mother back her sunglasses.

Nancy is thirty-five years old. Each of her daughters has a different father, but they all look like she does. Dull brown hair, with almond shaped eyes and pale skin. Freckles only on their arms, and a nose that looks like it is broken. This is the thirteenth time she has moved her life. Although in reality, her life is inside the minivan.

Sydney is looking out the window. She is watching the sky fly by. Nancy’s tears stop again. Caroline presses the play button on her tape player, and Rachel turns the page. Lily starts coloring the sky red.
“Belle looks prettiest in purple,” she says.

The minivan pulls into a gas station. Nancy opens the door and takes her purse that looks more like a suitcase. She gives Rachel five dollars and says, “Get some lunch for you and your sisters.” Nancy walks inside to ask for the key to the bathroom.

Inside the gas station the girls fight over who gets what color Sno-ball. Fighting is pointless. Caroline always gets pink. Lily always gets purple. Rachel always gets green. And Sydney is given white. They take the Sno-balls to the cashier. The total is $4.20. Caroline steals a penny from the dish. The girls open their Sno-balls and sit on the concrete. The minivan watches them from its parking place. It is the color of the sky only it’s rusted in almost every spot. The sun melts the Sno-balls so that chocolate and colored flakes of coconut stick to their hands. Nancy comes out of the bathroom and gets back in the car.

Nancy tries to remember the last time she felt happy. She worries it was when Lily was born. That is almost five years ago. Five years of crying. She wonders why she has not tried to kill herself. The door to the minivan slides open and three girls climb inside. Rachel opens the passenger door. They drive onto the highway once more.

“Where are we going to Mama?” Caroline asks, but it comes out more like a yell.
“I don’t know baby.” Nancy smiles in the rear view mirror at her daughters. Lily drops her crayons. They spill all over the car.
“I’m going to throw up.”

Nancy pulls over the minivan. She helps Lily to an empty spot near the field. Lily throws up purple and brown. Sydney gets out and walks over to a fence. There are cows on the other side. Ugly ones. Not black and white like you see in movies, but brown and old looking. She remembers once how her mother came to talk to one of her teachers. She watched through the door. Her mother was laughing. She had never seen her mother laugh. The teacher shook her mother’s hand. Her laughing turned to sobbing. Sydney ran into the bathroom and heard her mother come in not too long after. She heard her take one of her pills. The cows don’t even moo like real cows she says to herself and goes back to the car.

Caroline tells Sydney that she wants to be a M.I.L.F.

“You can’t be a M.I.L.F. unless you are a mother.” Says Sydney.

Caroline laughs and says she is a mom because her dolls all tell her that they love her. Sydney tells her that their toys are at home, and they aren't going back home. Caroline starts to cry.

Lily climbs back into the car and starts to color again. Nancy starts up the car and asks Caroline why she is crying.

“I’m a terrible mother” she says. Nancy laughs and pulls the car back onto the highway.

“I’ll never be a M.I.L.F.” Caroline says to herself and shakes her head sadly.

Lily asks what a M.I.L.F. is and Caroline says it means Mother I’d Like to Feel.

“It means Mother I’d Like to Fuck Caroline.” Sydney says from the back seat still looking out the window.

Nancy laughs again. The girls know it is not a real laugh. No one has ever heard her real laugh. Another billboard goes by. An old pinup girl advertising a new housing development. “Orchard Grove Houses” it says. Fifty Miles.

“Well I’d rather have a mother I could feel” says Caroline she puts a new tape into her tape player.

 Lily signs her name under her picture. Nancy starts to cry and Sydney counts the cows. Rachel turns another page.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home