by Nod Ghosh
Momma said I couldn’t take all my toys. Said I wouldn’t need them where we were going. And I didn’t pack any clothes. Didn’t get no time. We stopped at Grandma’s for a bit, but we left almost as soon as we got there.
We got hotdogs though. I had fries with mine. And mustard. Momma never got one for herself, and that made me sad, how she always does things for us, but not for herself. When we got going again, Red was shouting like the world was on fire.
“Faster, Mom, go faster.”
So she did. There was a smell in the car that wasn’t there before, like something hot and blistered. I got scared.
“I’m gonna play you each a song. A special song,” Momma said, and the whine of the gas pedal screamed big and loud. The Chevvy veered in and out of the fast lane as she twisted dials and pressed buttons. Red got his song first. He sang along with the words he knew.
“ — a handsome man — ”
He laughed like a hyena at the chorus, like he always did. Mum went a little faster. I thought she might get a ticket, but there weren’t that many cars on the highway by then. A little slip of moon climbed into the corner of the candy-pink sky, but the air blowing through my window was hot and steamy.
Callie starts to cry when her song comes on.
“Where are we going, Mom?” she moans over the words and music.
“Listen to your song, honey,” Momma says. I feel like crying along with my sister. My dress is caught in the car door, and Momma won’t stop so I can let it out. I’ve left my bag at Grandma’s, and it’s got all my make-up in it. And my trading cards.
“My dress is stuck. I can’t move,” I say again.
“Are we going to see Daddy?” Red asks.
Callie asks Momma where we’re going. She says something pretty about unicorns, but I don’t believe her.
“Your turn now, Misty,” Momma says, and I think I hear a catch in her voice, like she’s trying not to cry.
But then my song comes on and the tangle inside my chest loosens a bit. It’s something Grandma used to play Momma when she was little. Whenever I hear it, I feel light. Like marshmallow.
“ — much in love — ”
My song makes me think of sherbet and icing sugar. It makes me think of being in love, even though I never have been. It makes me feel like there’re little bits of God even in forgotten corners.
And though I didn’t think the Chevvy could go any faster, somehow it does.
Nod Ghosh is a New Zealand writer who wrote an embarrassing amount of rubbish before any decent stuff began to emerge. Further details: http://www.nodghosh.com/about/