The Last Mile, by Noah St. John
When my mommas fight, they go on long car rides, come back and I hear our car stay still. They come in and Robin goes directly to the bedroom angry. Maria will sometimes make toast or water. I sit in my room quiet, listening like a radio antenna.
My mommas drive a CRV, they bought it brand new; the car is big boned practical. It is our car. I have been one with this CRV for so long now. We used to drive for miles out on the highway until I fell asleep. It has taken me to martial arts practice, and school plays. This is the car that took me to the Gay Pride parade where I skipped through the crowd throwing mini Oreos. This is the car I’ll learn to drive in; the car I’ll remember.
Last Tuesday night my mother Maria comes into the house with a weathered smile. My other mother Robin and I are sitting in the room. Maria asks us if we will take a drive with her. So we all get in the car, our hearts thudding in offbeat unison, and as we drive, silence settles in, and I wonder. Then I know. This is it.
And I didn’t imagine it would end like this. I didn’t imagine an ending at all but if they were going to tell me about the divorce, what a way to do it. I sit in the back seat. I wonder when they’ll say it; how they’ll say it.
I think about how my time will be split between them. I wonder what will happen when they see each other afterwards. Will it feel like collisions? I don’t want to meet another girlfriend.
I can’t imagine anything but this; it’s ending is unthinkable, my heart hurts at the thought of our last miles. These miles. Who will take the CRV?
In the back seat I think about how lucky we are to have had this family. Their twenty years of marriage, my fifteen with them. I remember when Maria drove away one night without saying where. I remember when I came to them crying at the idea of separation. I remember when Robin came out sobbing. I remember when Maria whispers at Robin to be quiet, and Robin yells louder.
I feel these walls crumbling; I don’t want this life to end. Maria starts to talk. I pinch my leg and look out the window. She tells me that our car, our CRV is just thirteen miles away from reaching one hundred thousand miles now. I wonder if this is part of the divorce speech or just a distraction. I feel angry. They should just say it.
She tells me the reason we took this ride, is so that we could all be there, one hundred thousand miles together; as the people who matter in her life. Slowly, I come to the realisation that this isn’t a break-up ride; this is a stay together ride.
We’re in the car, and we’re driving on a Tuesday night, and we’re ninety-nine thousand nine hundred and eighty seven miles in. We stop for onion rings and sundaes; keep driving… ninety-nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-three miles… Stevie Nicks… ninety-nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-six miles… Elton John. When we get to ninety-nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine miles, we hold hands…blast Melissa Etheridge and sing ‘Lucky’ at the top of our lungs.
There are too many reasons that my mommas found love in each others presence. There are too many moments when we are unbreakable, and in this moment we are one family, constructing road as we go; burning bridges behind us, adding mileage like graceful ageing… driving in our CRV, towards moonlight.