The old Ford truck started right up. For months it’d sat out there on the gravel driveway without anyone thinking about moving her. The whole family, Bobby Jr., Tommy, and Lynette, just looked at it from the kitchen windows with snow piled up on it, thinking of their father and how he used to drive em through town in the back of it. He’d go nice and slow, all of em waving at on-lookers on the sidewalks, in the parks, drunks coming out of liquor stores, and folks exiting churches on Sunday mornings.
Momma couldn’t bare to look at it. Reminded her of the old man too much. Swore to her kids that she was going to sell it as soon as the spring came. Could get a good price for it too. Just a little rust. Use a paint job maybe.
The kids were in their late teens now. Soon they would be going to college, or taking on a job somewhere; moving out. Leaving.
The death of the old man took em all by surprise. Day before his heart attack he was teaching Lynette how to drive stick shift in the pickup. They’d go down country roads, parking lots, out in harvested old corn fields where they’d laugh while tearing through yellowed stalks. And now, she was going to sell it. All those memories gone.
So, momma told Bobby, the oldest, to go out there and start the truck. See if it was still running. He put the silver key in the ignition and turned it. It sputtered and spattered, black smoke came out the tail pipe.
He let it run for awhile, thoughts of taking off in it crossed his mind. Thoughts of leaving and never coming back. Bobby looked over at momma on the back stoop. She runs O.K. ?, momma asked. The boy just nodded his head. Alright. You can turn her off now, she yelled over the motor. He didn’t want to turn it off. Bobby, I said turn it off, she walked towards the truck. He kept it on. Put his foot on the clutch and shifted down. The truck began to move. And freedom took place in the young man’s heart. He could see her in the mirror shaking her fist. He just smiled. Going faster and faster. Thinking about his daddy.
Drove out to the county line. Turned the old radio on. Some Johnny Cougar song was playing. He wondered why she wanted to get rid of it so badly. And then it dawned on him. She was ready to move on.