We’re in the car- the three of us, the original family.
The newbie’s in the car behind us, and he wants to race. He pulls up beside my father’s Accord, and the two men with identical builds and matching smiles meet eyes in playful competition before my brother’s blue Prius whizzes by us and my own chariot follows suit. An unexpected slowdown on the mildly busy road forces my brother to slam on his brakes and my father to force a quick stop behind him nearly rubbing noses with his alerted brake lights, a loud horn from an unrelated vehicle accessorizing the scene.
My mother is furious.
“Do you want to kill us?”
She would give the right-of-way to a worm.
“I was just having a little fun.”
“You’re going to kill us all with your little fun.”
This is the same conversation they’ve had for thirty years. It always ends the same way. The exasperated sighs, eyes rolled to the sun roof, but the tiny twinge of a smile nearly unnoticeable at the corners of their mouths- a smile of familiarity- perhaps of roles played out: the constant jokester being scolded? Or relief? In the tiny glimpses of smile, they speak their language to the other. I watch my father reach over and squeeze my mother’s knee. I watch her pat my father’s hand. I think about us all dying- swirling away in Technicolor. If he killed us all, I think, picturing us three like candy bits in a Cuisinart beater, our colors circling round and round, our toppling into each other, I think that would be alright.
Because for this thing that has to happen to us. Seperately. One at a time so that we have to watch. So that the loss of our three-ness can reverberate off of pictureless walls and pour over us like gravy and smell like freshly fallen petals, well, that seems harder. Natural, maybe, but harder.