V is for Veneer
When I was eight, we had a station wagon. Puke green with fake wood paneling. I liked it best to lay in the very back, with my feet up on the back window, watching the world go by in reverse. I probably had a book — this was before reading in the car made me want to puke — and probably a stuff rabbit that sat on my shoulder and looked at the pictures. I had naturally blonde hair and blue eyes that you couldn’t see behind thick glasses and braces that made the inside of my cheeks hurt all the time. I liked the fake wood on the sides because it matched the fake wood in our trailer, the one we lived in before my sister came.
That car got totaled when I was almost a teenager. It got slammed into in the middle of the night when it wouldn’t start and my father was pushing it for a jump-start. Another car came on, without headlights, and hit them hard. I wasn’t in it, but everyone else was. No one died, but my sister lost her pinkie finger and my mother broke both her legs and my father didn’t get hurt at all. The mailbox was in the ditch, my mother’s flowers were crushed, and once, years later, I found a piece of broken mirror under the front porch and watched my reflection in it. Closer than I appeared.
The night of the accident I was sleeping in my bed. I don’t know where they were going in the middle of the night, without me. I was afraid to ask.