Could Have Driven Back Again

She could have driven back again...

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1. Could Have Driven Back Again

"Are you sure you've gotta go?" Mama asks. She's standing behind me, probably crying again. I don't bother to look back at her, I already know what I'd see: Mama's standing there clutching my suitcase, her bright blue eyes puffy from all the tears. Her blonde hair's tangled and she's wearing Daddy's old shirt, the plaid one he wore on rodeo day. Mama always wears Daddy's shirts now. I think it makes her feel better, but I'm not sure why.

"I'm just going for a little while," I tell her. I know that's not true, and she probably knows it, too. I hate this little town. I don't really know why, I guess it's all the memories this place has. All the memories of Daddy. There's the old bar where he used to play poker on Sundays. The flagpole where he'd drop me off for school. There's the field where he taught me to drive, and the barn where he kept all his horses. He always loved his horses. Daddy once said that once a horse accepts you, it treats you like family. Maybe that's true, maybe it's not. All I know is that horses remind me of Daddy, too.

"I guess it's for the best then," Mama tells me. "Are you taking the truck?" I want to tell her no, that there's no way I'm taking Daddy's truck, but I know I can't. Mama hates that truck, and she's got no clue how to drive a stick-shift. So I nod and open the car door. She throws my bag in the back and turns to face me. "You have fun, okay?" She wipes away her tears and tries to smile. "I love you," she tells me. 

"I love you, too." I give Mama a hug and slide into the front seat. I start the truck and turn towards the road. I wave at Mama and she waves back. I hit the gas and start driving down the road, leaving behind nothing but a cloud of dust. A cloud of dust and my Mama, growing smaller and smaller as I drive away.

 

****

"She was a good woman," someone tells me. I'm not sure who, they're face is blurred by my tears. "I'm really sorry," another says. That's all these people can say, meaningless words of sympathy. The truth is, they never knew her. They never knew my Mama. Or could they have? Could all of these people somehow have met the woman I left on the driveway eleven years ago? I walk towards the casket and look down at the body. She's really gone, and I hadn't even been there to say good-bye. I lean down and kiss her on the forehead. 

"I'm sorry," I whisper. "I'm sorry I waited all this time to come home." Then I wipe away my tears, and try to smile, just like she did all those years ago. "I love you, Mama," I finally tell her, and then I lay down my rose.

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