Thursday, January 11, 2007

Go Means Go

They went out the door and never came back. They got in the car and drove away. I didn’t think they would or could but they did.
They didn’t look back until they both got in the car, but by then they were not looking back, but forward really. I could see them and they didn’t even glance at me, or wave. Dad just turned around to look down the driveway, putting his arm out across the back of mom’s seat but he didn’t even touch her. I didn’t see their lips move or their eyes comment. They just backed out of the driveway without pausing.
I kept thinking they would stop to look at me or the house or the lawn sprinkler, arcing slowly in the noon heat, but nothing. Mom never let the water run when she was gone, afraid something might go wrong. I thought at least she might ask me to turn the sprinklers off.
They bought the house twenty-six years ago just before I was born and then I was born, but they didn’t look at either of us.
Dad always noticed small things wrong with the house––small as maybe a nail head rusting in the shingles and my mom, she had a thing about my bras or maybe my lack of one as she was always staring at my boobs. Maybe that was it––she was tired or jealous of my boobs because in that last moment it occurred to me that she wasn’t looking at me––wasn’t looking to correct anything about me and I was very happy for just a second, but then I wanted her to stare at me even if the only emotion I could get was nothing.
But I was a stranger or not even there as though they were driving down a street that they’d been down a thousand times before and there was no need to stare at the brown shingled houses or the girl standing in the doorway, so they didn’t.
They drove off. And in my memory, I could see my dad, shifting through the gears and stopping at the stop sign where he always counted to three or had me do it when I was a little girl. He had a thing about stop signs, or maybe just words. They all meant something and sometimes more. He would always say, stop means stop and I would always say then, go means go. And this time I could see that he was saying it too because he did not stop.
I pictured him running all the stop signs and red lights in town, even though there was only one traffic light and he was buddies with the sheriff, so he could probably get away with it.
Maybe he warned the sheriff, who always responded with, ‘Yeah, uh-huh, sure,’ to anything you said. Maybe he warned him that when the day came, he wasn’t going to stop to think or wait for red lights. He wasn’t going to think about stop means stop but just go means go and he wasn’t going to let my mother think about anything like that either.
It’d just be go means go unless of course, the sheriff, his good buddy, was off work, out of town or dead or something, because it could be a long time before my dad would decide to do something, anything, but he was, so I just assumed they wouldn’t be stopping anywhere too soon and that stop sign was just the start.
I walked out onto the lawn, ticklish grass under my feet and the sprinkler casually arced across me, as though nothing were wrong, and I didn’t move. It was so hot anyway, so why. I just watched for any signs of them looking back, reconsidering me as a daughter or the house as maybe needing new shingles, but nothing––not a brake light in sight and the car just kept getting smaller and smaller as my disbelief grew larger, but didn’t really hurt or want to explode. I couldn’t even think to cry on the wet lawn.
Was that really my parents vanishing down that road? Did they both, after a quiet life of disagreeing, decide to agree and just go.
I couldn’t tell. They were farther than a whisper even farther than a scream, so I did neither, but just watched until they were less than nothing in the distance. I stood there, noticing the gathering of goose bumps on my sweaty, hot skin.
I saw everything for once and yet nothing at all because it all seemed to be happening but not happening. They were gone and I didn’t know it or feel it just then, but they were gone for good and I stepped onto the sun-baked concrete with my wet feet and I looked backwards while I went forward, staring at my wet foot-prints, each one fading as the next one appeared. I walked this way into the house that was theirs that they didn’t want anymore. I walked forward, looking back, saying, go means go.


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