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“Hey Mark, I have the greatest idea!”
We had been lying out on the trampoline in the hot sun for most of the afternoon. The sun was shining down on our faces and making our visions blur. All I could see was a blinding mix of blue and white that was the sky. Every time Mark moved I would bounce on the burning fabric beneath, which would distort the light in my eyes. The heat was making our brains sluggish and left us with nothing to do.
No energy and no thought.
The fiery rays left everything around us sluggish as well. There were no birds chirping, no lawnmowers roaring, and no children laughing. It was killing me.
“Let’s teach Auntie Debbie how to drive the golf cart.”
Auntie Debbie was sitting out on the dock watching the dog look for rocks in the creek behind the house. She was wearing her red tinted sunglasses and I saw her head move up, staring into the sun. From where I was sitting I couldn’t hear her but I knew she was humming to herself as she held her fingers between her eyes and the sun. I smiled, for I love watching her entertaining mannerisms. I never can understand the things she does, but no one can all the time. Auntie Debbie is simple, fun, and autistic.
I stood, the flexible fabric stretching underneath me, and jumped up and down a little. I bounced just enough to wake Mark up out of his lazy reverie, and then I hopped off the edge of the trampoline. My feet hit the dead grass and buried a few ant hills. I could feel the ants moving around my soles until I quickly put on my black flip flops. They were toasty from being in the sun all this time and I enjoyed the warmth on my toes.
I felt Mark hit the ground next to me, having no care in the world about standing in the middle of all those ants. After all, a Florida boy can handle any creature after enduring barefooted journeys through many armies of fire ants.
We trekked out across the uneven terrain of the backyard as Auntie Debbie threw a gigantic rock into the water. It landed with a giant splash, scattering a family of Canadian geese while the dog swam after them. However, the dog cared more about the rock than she did the geese, which were now flapping their wings threateningly. The dog took no notice, which made me proud. What a good dog.
Auntie Debbie had thrown the rock much too deep, so far that the dog would never be able to reach it. This didn’t stop the dumb dog from trying. But, eventually she gave up and started paddling back towards us, whimpering on about her lost rock. In just a few moments, however, she was standing in knee-deep water and dunking her head under, the events of three seconds prior completely forgotten. I let out a laugh as her head finally rose above the surface and she stared at me with pleading eyes, another rock clenched in her mouth with the hope that I would throw this one for her. Then Mark spoke, bringing me back to the present.
“Hey, Aunt Debbie, you want to learn how to drive?” Mark questioned. I looked up at him. He’s a foot and a half taller than I, so I had to stare into the sun in order to see him. His features were darkened but I knew he was smiling that goofy grin.
No answer yet as Auntie Debbie stared at him for a second. I wondered what she was thinking. It could have been anything, but I guessed it was about Mark. She loves his light hair which was even sandier in the rays of the sun, contrasting the dark flowing locks of Marks younger brother. This is only one of the many examples that make Auntie Debbie smile. As a matter of fact, she stares at my mom all the time because she “loves Chinese people.”
“Yeah,” she said simply, finally answering him.
Together we made our way back towards the house, stepping over forgotten baseballs and patches of dirt. The grass in the backyard was brown and dying from the lack of rain. Everything was dry except for the dog following me, her face dripping with water. I reached the back deck first where two golf carts, one was gas driven the other electric, were parked in the shade. While Mark headed towards the electric cart, the dog jumped up into the back and soaked the seat. As Mark took a towel and wiped off the faux leather, I sat down in the gas golf cart with Auntie Debbie. The seat was soft and worn from years of use and the familiarity put me at ease.
I started off with the basics: gas pedal, brake pedal, steering, and when I felt Auntie Debbie understood I let her take the wheel. We started off slow, Mark trailing behind us, and cautiously we made our lap around the house. I repeated, “Slow, good. Slow…,” over and over. The pride coursed through me as I realized Auntie Debbie was actually able to drive! Just for a second I couldn’t wait to show the rest of the family what she could actually do. I imagined their pride and their happiness over what she had learned, what I taught her.
That thought was short lived and soon I was wishing no one would ever find out.
On our fifth lap, Auntie Debbie got a little too excited. As we turned around the corner of the house, parallel to the deck, she floored it! Her foot was glued to the pedal, which was down as far as it could go. We were speeding, the wind making my eyes water, and I had no idea how this could be happening. Just seconds before I had been enjoying a calm ride around the house, being driven by my special-needs aunt, and now I was in a screaming deathtrap! At least that was what it felt like, while in reality the golf-cart barely even reaches twenty miles per hour. My mind went blank until visions of explosions found in Die Hard filled my mind.
Then, I was yelling.
“Stop, stop, STOP!” I was stepping over her and stomping on the brake repeatedly. Nothing was happening and my heart was beating crazily. I kept screaming as every part of my body started to race faster. She wasn’t letting up on the pedal and she definitely wasn’t turning the wheel, which was the only thing that would have given us more time. If she had turned that wheel, we would have driven around the corner of the house and I would have had that extra time to pull the key out of the front panel. This would cause the cart to stop in its tracks with no harm done except leave me with an excess amount of adrenaline and the ability to keep the whole ordeal on the down low. I would be free from the embarrassing story that would constantly follow me around during family dinners and reunions for years to come.
If only she had turned that wheel.
Before I knew it we were headed straight for the decorative well sitting randomly between the house and the outer fence. I couldn’t think and nothing was making sense. Right before my eyes I saw the nose of the cart collide with the well and push it across the yard until we met resistance with the boat trailer. This stopped the cart with a crash and the sound of splintering wood echoed through my ears.
After a few minutes of silent shock, I made Auntie Debbie get out of the cart and I backed up, completely at loss of what else to do. The well had been crushed in a sandwich of golf cart and boat with a side of two horrified teenagers, an indifferent, sleeping dog, and an aunt who couldn’t drive.
A few seconds and a lifetime later, we were still sitting there staring at the shards of splintered wood with dumbfounded looks painted on our faces. My stomach dropped with dread when we heard a slam of the slider door and a, “WHAT THE !#$* JUST HAPPENED!?”
Even though I was expecting this, it didn’t prevent the terror. We had just let our aunt drive through a three hundred and fifty dollar well and now Mark and I would have to deal with the consequences. If we were scared before, now we were Silence-of-the-Lambs-mixed-with-pee-in-your-pants terrified. I looked behind me into the scarlet face of my father awoken from his daily nap. It must have been nice for him to be shaken out of his peaceful slumber by the sudden noise of a loud shattering right outside his bedroom window. I think that was why he was in such a good mood.
“Well? MOVE…” he said unbelievingly and his voice had that don’t you dare question me tone.
I didn’t have to be told twice. I hit the gas, wanting to get out of there as quick as possible, and, forgetting I was in reverse, backed right up into the other golf cart. As I jerked backwards, due to the thudding impact, my stomach dropped for about the hundredth time in ten minutes, which couldn’t have been too healthy.
“Careful!” Auntie Debbie yelled.
“What was that Debbie?” said my father sarcastically. Apparently, now my aunt was an expert in golf cart safety.
I took my opening and booked it, narrowly missing an innocent squirrel. I never wanted to go back. Driving the cart around the east side of the house, my mind raced with thoughts. I felt horrible. What a stupid-stupid-stupid idea! I knew everyone would make fun of me now and tell me how irresponsible I was. They would harass me and think that I was the bad driver. Plus, now I was going to have to pay for a pointless and ugly well! Just my luck to make an effort of suppressing all-consuming boredom and, in turn, creating a huge problem for which I’d get in trouble, although I definitely wasn’t bored anymore. What a twisted world. I parked the cart and took my time walking back towards the scene of the crime.
Inching past the parked Subaru on my right and the fire pit on my left, I first heard my father barking at Mark, “Put that well back together.”
Then, as they came into view, I actually saw Mark picking up the unfixable shards of wood. It looked as if my mind wasn’t the only one that wasn’t working correctly, for there were fifty pieces of wood on the ground varying in size and shape, and my cousin thought he could put it back together. It was a jigsaw puzzle with no picture on a box that he could follow.
“I’ll get the duct tape,” I said nevertheless. ‘Anything to do something else,’ I thought, sensing my father’s eyes boring into the back of my head as I headed towards the tool closet.
We would go on to unsuccessfully put the well back together. However, I did accomplish the task of taping my hands shut with heavy-duty duct tape. My father also apologized to Mark and me for snapping, and the dog was still able to take a nap in the sun until it fell beneath the trees.
With all that drama, Auntie Debbie’s driving days were over and a story that no one would ever let me forget was created.
What a terrible idea.