Originally Published in Storyzine Volume I, Issue VII September 2018.
Cryss stood, head held high, arms at her waist, and stared into the Toyota’s headlights.
The once midnight blue, now faded navy Camry LE glared back at her.
Are you up for this? it seemed to ask, stubborn, defiant. Despite its 95,000 miles – nearly 153,000 km! – accumulated in a mere four years, the Toyota was not at all tired. Cryss could feel its energy, even as it stood inert in her driveway. After 60? 70? trips down Connecticut’s Merritt Parkway, over the Tappan Zee Bridge from Westchester into Northern New Jersey, Cryss was tired. She wanted to park the Camry in her driveway, 30 miles outside of Boston, and throw away the keys forever.
Still, there she stood, keys jangling in her right hand, staring those headlights down.
A long, long time ago, off a NJ Garden State Parkway Exit far, far away, Cryss had made a choice. That choice was waiting for her – and the currently defiant Camry – four hours away, just off New Jersey Local Route 17. As much as Cryss wanted to stop driving, she couldn’t. As often as she said, “Let his father handle it, he lives with him,” she couldn’t. Each and every time Cryss tried to insist to herself that “noncustodial parent” meant she didn’t have to be on call 24/7 the Cape extended off her shoulders, unfurling in the unseen wind behind her.
Each and every time she tried to say, “But the miles on the car,” the Camry glared at her.
Each and every time there was a crisis, the Cape snapped back.
Right now, the Cape, bright red against Cryss’ blue jeans and navy t-shirt, was hissing adamantly. “You are a Mom. You are needed.” Cryss straightened her spine, opened her 20 ounce can of Sugar Free Red Bull and chugged it. She promptly chased it down with a Five Hour Energy. Finally, she opened the car’s driver’s side door.
The Camry sighed as Cryss slid behind the steering wheel and turned the key in the ignition. Across Connecticut, her son, who could not speak for himself, needed Cryss’ voice.
Cryss put the old Toyota in gear, and turned onto the highway.
“Ready or not, Autistic Spectrum, here I come,” Cryss thought, smiling to herself.
The Camry’s engine roared.
The Cape cheered.