“When I’m driving, I’m in charge of the music.”
“You’ve always been bossy with the stereo.”
“I always drove.”
I remember her old phrase: “My car, my rules.”
Traffic slows again, and we are motionless on the bridge. The sky
is congested with dark clouds. Patty’s fingertips dance on the leather
steering wheel. We’re creeping up the bridge when rain begins to fall. It
hasn’t rained since the spring, and layers of long-dried oil now slick the
road. Patty picks up as we near the tunnel with a rainbow over its arch.
Patty says, “Make a wish.”
We were superstitious kids. When passing a cemetery or driving be-
neath a tunnel, we loved to lift our feet off the floor, shut our eyes, and
hold our breath. This was how wishes were made and came true.
Eyes closed, I make circles over my belly with my hand. My wish
turns over in my mind. I picture it as a ball filled with gas, something
unstable, chaotic; maybe something good.
When I open my eyes, Patty’s are still closed. She’s lost in her wish.
She shakes herself awake, but it’s too late. Metal crunches as we make
contact with a hatchback’s trunk.
“Are you okay?”
My breath heaves and shudders in my chest. Aside from the hot, cut-
ting feeling where the seatbelt restrained me from plowing through the
windshield, I am not hurt, and I think, I hope, neither is the baby. “Why
weren’t you paying attention?”
“I was,” she says. Patty’s just like me—she never admits when she’s
She pulls into the turnout overlooking the winding Sausalito streets
and the dark gray bay just beyond them. Before I can ask her if she’s
been drinking, she gets out to talk to the woman in the hatchback, who
screams at her. Patty calms the woman. She’s good at this. The back of
the woman’s car is puckered like a lipsticked mouth, the red metal curling in crushed circles.
As they talk in the rain on the side of the road, I’m reminded of
the accident we were in as girls, when my father crashed into the pine
tree. We were coming back from dinner. Our mother stayed home. He
drank all through the meal and was on a happy one, smacking our backs
while laughing at his own jokes. Our father was a moody drunk. Loving and full of praise when fully sauced, cold and critical while nursing