GENRE: YA Contemporary
Our red Ford Festiva was nicknamed The Clown Car by my late father, and I have a love-hate relationship with this crummy compact. It holds lots of memories but is older than me and falling apart. This morning, we’re running late, and Mom sets her jumbo insulated tumbler of frappuccino on top of it while my ten-year-old brother, Declan, gets in the backseat. She needs both hands to shove her purse and workbag in beside him.
I take the passenger seat, and with an uncontrollable grin, say, “Mom, don’t forget about my driver’s test after school.”
She smiles and turns the key in the ignition. “Of course I won’t forget, and guess what—”
Panicked, I look around for a fire, and a strangling sound escapes me as cold, bony fingers of dread squeeze around my neck.
“Are you okay, Cordelia?” Mom asks, rubbing my shoulder in concern. “It was just the car backfiring.”
Declan says, “Yeah, that was loud.” Laughing, he adds, “Usually it sounds more like the car’s farting.”
Taking a deep breath, I loosen my death grip on the door handle and laugh too, feeling silly for my overreaction.
“The mechanic’s going to take a look at it this week,” Mom says. She begins to back out of the driveway but immediately slams on the brakes and gasps, “Oh no!”
The slushy, chocolaty, caramel contents of her tumbler—that she couldn’t find the lid for—start oozing down the windshield in front of us.