Designated Driver Gone Devious This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Drunken laughter roared as Daniel shared another crude joke. Me and Sam were sitting at the end of the table playing a quiet game of Uno. Mommy and Daniel wanted to go out tonight to celebrate Daniel’s proposal to her. She had dialed all of her close friends, all thirty of them. Since it was so last minute, Mom couldn’t find a babysitter for me and Sam so she dragged us along. After making us promise that we wouldn’t be a bother, she left us to go drink her happy juice as she called it. I knew her happy juice was alcohol, probably beer unlike her usual sip of wine. I knew and Sam knew but we didn’t say anything. It was sometimes best for me and Sam to remain oblivious to Mom’s open secrets.
“Uno,” I whispered to Sam.
He set down his cards, face up. None of them were blue or a five. Shrugging, I set down my last card and won the game. I took the deck along with his cards and began to shuffle them. From the corner of my eye, I saw Daniel stand and hold his beer bottle up high.
“A toast!” he shouted. “To m’ lov-ely fiancé! I love ya, sweetheart!”
Bending down, he smooched Mom hard against her mouth. I flicked my eyes to Sam and saw his disgusted face. Quickly, I covered his eyes before he could see any more. Good thing I did too because their kiss only became more intense and slobbery. The crowd of friends gave the appropriate response of “AWWWWW” even though there was nothing cute or romantic about two drunk people kissing. I’d seen it plenty of times with Mom and Dad and now, I had a hunch that I’d be seeing more of it with Mom and Daniel.
“Are they done yet?” Sam spat quietly.
“I think almost,” I said, taking a quick peek.
Even though I was just ten, I knew what it meant to “hook up” and it sure looked like that’s what Daniel and Mom were about to do. With their minds drunk on alcohol and lust, their hands were running over each other’s bodies like they were in their bedroom. I turned away, deeply disturbed and embarrassed by Mom. If there was going to be more nights like this, I might have to run away with Sam, I thought.
“Let me correct myself: they are definitely not almost done,” I snapped.
Sam groaned and folded his arms. “Well, I don’t want to sit with your hand over my face for the rest of the night.”
The exit sign suddenly began to scream at me, its bright green light beckoning me to come closer. I nodded to no one in particular and took Sam’s hand. Keeping my hand over his eyes, I guided him out of the bar and outside to the fresh night air.
“Ta-da!” I smiled.
He returned my grin. “Thanks, Kaz.”
“No prob. I think there’s a bench over there,” I said, pointing across the parking lot. “If we go over there, Mom will be able to find us easily and we won’t have to be near the bar.”
His hazel eyes brightened. “Sounds awesome.”
We walked hand in hand to the bench. Sam yawned once and immediately, I checked my watch. Ten thirty-nine. Pursing my lips tightly, anger surged through my petite body. Mom could be such an idiot sometimes. Couldn’t she have the decency to know that tonight was a school night? Sam had a spelling test tomorrow and he was going to be so tired tomorrow that he’s probably going to fall asleep right there in the middle of it!
Sitting down, Sam rested his head on my shoulder. “Kaz, I’m really tired.”
“I know, bud. I’m sorry,” I apologized.
“Can’t you drive? Mommy and Michael have been teaching you, haven’t they?” Sam whined.
I choked back a laugh. “Sammy, there’s no way police would let a ten year old girl drive home her eight year old brother home. I have to be sixteen to be allowed to legally drive.”
He pouted for a moment before turning his face up to mine. “Kaz?”
“Yeah?”
“Can I lay down here and sleep or will Mom get mad at me for acting like a hobo?” he asked.
He shouldn’t be asking me this. He shouldn’t be in this situation, I thought sadly.
“Go ahead,” I smiled. “I’ll cover for you if Mom gets mad.”
“Thanks, Kaz,” he yawned again.
A moment later, he was stretched out on the wooden bench, using my thigh as a pillow. I ran my fingers through his golden locks and thought of Mom. She used to do this with us… before it got really bad with Dad… before Daniel had come along and saved the day. Or rather her day. Once he had entered the picture, Mom forgot that she was a mom. We were just baggage from a failure marriage. Sam began to snore lightly and I chuckled. His snore sounded exactly like Dad’s when he dozed off to a better world. I wondered if Sam was dreaming of a better place, where he could run around with his friends and share cheesy knock-knock jokes and just be a kid without Mom having to be his constant dark rain cloud ruining his parade. Fatigue overwhelmed me and I fell asleep with images of Dad leaving us, poisoned by alcohol, and Mom sobbing hysterically, shunning us away from her as if our touch pained her.
What seemed like only minutes later, someone stood over me, shaking me back to the real world.
“Kazzy,” a feminine voice murmured. “Kazzy, what the hell are you doing?”
I was wide awake now. A wet spot of drool damped my hand-me down jeans from where Sam was laying. He was missing and my heart skipped a beat.
“Where’s Sam?” I demanded.
“Girl, shut up,” Mom slurred her words together. “And don’ talk s’ loud.”
“Where is Sam?” I asked again, ignoring her.
Mom looked at me with angry, glazed over eyes. She looked about ready to smack me but I didn’t care. My brother was missing and he was the only thing that I stuck around for.
“He’s in the car, y’ idiot. Now c’mon and git us home,” she spat, snatching my arm.
I staggered at first from the surprising amount of force she had in her grip. Michael slouched against our minivan, massaging his temples delicately.
“Audrey, I think we had a little bit too much to drink.” Unlike Mom, Michael could sustain an acute awareness of his surroundings and manage to speak normally. That still didn’t mean that he could easily drive us home though. Mom shoved me to the car and sulked off to the backseat to join Sam.
“What is she doing?” I requested Michael.
“Sitting. What does it look like?” he said.
My blood froze. “But… who’s going to drive us home?”
Michael gave me a wink before heading off to his own car. “You are, little girl. We taught you well.”
Terrified, I slid into the drivers’ seat, clinging to the steering wheel. I ignited the engine and gulped.
“Sammy?” I asked.
“Uh-huh?”
“Nothing. Just making sure that you were here.”
“Are you going to drive? I thought you said you couldn’t.”
I was silent before responding.
“I can’t. But Mom is too drunk and –is Daniel in here too?”
“Yeah.”
“Okay. Daniel is too drunk also so it’s up to me to get us home.”
Mom cut in on our conversation. “Dammit girl, shut the hell up an’ git us the hell home. I didn’t teach y’ to yammer y’r mouth off.”
I was tempted to shout back, knowing how sensitive she was to noise right now but I refrained myself. Sam was depending on me to be strong and get us home. Clenching my teeth together, I set the car into reverse and pulled out of the parking space slowly. Once I was safely out of the parking spot without hitting any other cars, I put the car into drive and inched myself towards open traffic. It was nearly two in the morning but there were still people out and about. I inhaled a deep breath and pulled out into the open road.
“Step on it, witch. We haven’t got all mornin’,” Mom hissed.
That was the last straw. I knew I was going to regret this later but I had to teach my mother a lesson. Pounding my foot on the gas pedal, I sped through a red light. Adrenaline pumped through my veins and I used it to guide me home. A small yellow Mustang cut in front of me and, just to piss Mom off, I rammed the front of our car into the trunk of the Mustang. I earned a furious honk as I zoomed past the damaged car.
“What was that?” Mom shrieked. “Did you just run into that car!?”
I didn’t respond. Instead, I checked my speed dial and, delighted, saw that it was going almost eighty in a forty speed zone.
“Kassandra, ANSWER ME!” Mom bellowed.
“Yeah, Mom, I did. What are you going to do about it? You’re too stinking drunk to stop me!” I yelled back.
“Pull over, right now,” she commanded.
Again, I ignored her and cut into the other lane, crashing into the car beside me. The Suburban swerved and skidded off the road. A maniac chuckle bubbled behind my lips but I kept it locked inside. Calmly, I spotted my next target on my radar. A blue and white Volkswagen Jetta puttered ahead, going way below the speed limit. Or perhaps it was the fact that I was going double over it. Either way, it was going too slow. I smashed the car with a good whiplash and zipped around.
“What the hell is wrong with you!? Pull over before you get everyone killed!” Mom shouted.
“Okay!” I called back.
Waiting for the last possible moment, I swung wide to turn onto the next street but purposely missed and collided with an innocent country-folk house. I screamed like a banshee as we broke through the living room. Sirens were wailing towards us as I hopped out of the car. I ran to the door where Sam was leaned up against. He was fine, just shaken up. Exhausted, I took him in my arms and hugged him tight to me.
“Kaz, what was that all about?” he whispered.
“This is the story and you will stick to it: Mom was too drunk to drive so she asked me and once I was out on the open road, I panicked since I didn’t really know what to do. Got it?” I explained in hushed tones.
“But why?” he wondered, his eyes big and scared. “You’ll get in trouble.”
“No, Mom will. She shouldn’t have let me drive. She’s gonna get in a lot of trouble, Sam,” I said.
Before Sam could ask any more questions, Mom came storming. Grabbing the collar of my shirt, she yanked me close to her face. Her breath reeked of alcohol and I coughed in her face. Her eyes were livid and I knew I was in huge trouble. By that time, the cops had already shown up along with a few news reporters.
“Kassandra Nicole Willoughby, you are in so much trouble. Do you realize that this was Daniel’s house? The house that I—we were going to move in!?” she spat.
“Ma’am,” an officer beckoned. “Step away from the vehicle.”
Mom released my shirt and shoved me into the side of the car, bruising my arm. I gathered Sam into my arms and whispered to him, “Look terrified. Like Daddy’s going to come beat us again.”
When the officers came to round us up, me and Sam were trembling, barely able to walk. Tears dripped down my face and splashed onto Sam’s head. He clung to me like I was a life preserver and he was stranded out in the middle of the ocean. Mom was babbling to the officers the various excuses she had to defend herself but the cops wouldn’t hear any of it. A kind-faced woman officer approached me and Sam and asked us if we wanted to sleep in her police cruiser. We exchanged glances and cautiously nodded. I kept muttering to myself that I was so sorry, that I had panicked and couldn’t say no to Mom or I’d feel like a terrible daughter. With my horrified mask firmly in place, the blame was all going towards Mom.
Once we were safely secured in the cruiser, I smiled.
“Sammy?”
“Yeah?”
“Wanna know a secret?”
“What, Kaz?”
I released the laughter I had been holding in. “I did that all on purpose!”
“No kidding.”
“No more Daniel, no more drunk nights, no more—”
“No more Mom,” Sam interrupted.
“Yeah.” My grin widened. “No more Mom.”
It was quiet for several minutes and I thought that Sam had fallen asleep.
“Now what?” he asked me.
I shrugged. “I’m not sure. Let me get to that in the morning. But for now, let’s just sleep, okay? I’m sure it’s gonna be a busy day tomorrow.”
We snuggled together like only siblings could and drifted off to sleep. The possibilities of our future were endless now. Before, we were degraded down to this, spending nights in a police cruiser because Mom lacked self-restraint. After… who knows. All I know was that no one would ever know the story of the deranged ten year old girl who purposely landed her mother behind bars for letting her daughter be her designated driver.





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