Elizabeth Glass

Powerful Things Can Happen in Driveways

My dad proposed to my mom in her driveway. My sister lost her virginity in a driveway. And I, well, I lost something else in mine.

It was a sunny afternoon—perfect weather. The kind songs are written about. A happy blue sky, puffy white clouds, low humidity, temperature hitting the 70’s for the first time of the year. Everyone was outside. Kids squealed and played. Teenagers walked, laughed, and listening to iPods. Old people sat on porches, smiling and calling to one another across streets and alleyways.

I had my car on lifts. I had never worked on my car before, but before my buddy Dave shipped out to Iraq, he showed me how to change my oil. I was anxious to try it. It had been a nasty winter, but today was the day: My first solo oil change.

I called some friends, and a couple of Dave’s buddies, to come over that evening for celebratory beer to toast my new success as an oil changer.

I was still under the car when Victor arrived. Victor Woo, a big hulk of a guy, Dave’s best friend. I heard him coming; he was hollering heydy and all the old people and kids.

I tried to hurry once I heard Victor, so that I’d be done by the time he got there, but I was still under the car, tightening that last bolt to the oil pan, when he walked up the driveway.

“What’cha doin’, girly?” He belly laughed then slammed his arm on the car.

Victor was built like a sumo wrestler, and when his arm hit the car, the car shifted and started slowly coming off the lifts. He didn’t realize. I didn’t, either. But then, little by little, the car eased down on me and in spite of all in the neighborhood stopping what they were doing and coming to Victor’s cries, it happened.

I could hear the kids crying. The parents and old people came over to help. The teenagers even took out their earbuds. Everyone tried to lift the car off of me instead of pull me out from under it until it was too late and I was pinned. And then my life seeped out of me as the car pushed further onto my lungs.

And then I was gone.

But I also wasn’t. I didn’t do anything particularly good in life, so I can’t “go on to the light.” But I didn’t do anything bad, either, so no hellfire and damnation. So I hang around my driveway.

It’s interesting to see, over the years, what has happened in it. A woman told her husband she was pregnant. Years later, that baby told his fiancé he was enlisting. Lots of scraped knees, some first steps, bold kisses, and pivotal conversations in between, and since.

And one day I’ll do something either so good I’ll go on one way or so bad that I’ll go another. In the meantime I just wait. And watch.

Elizabeth Glass recommends Harry Crews on Writing Part 1 on YouTube.

(For December at Everyday Genius, contributors were asked to recommend something elsewhere on the Internet.)

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