Maiden Voyage

My son got his driver’s license yesterday.

I hadn’t realized how hard it would hit me until I left the office and stopped by the grocery store for a few things.  I ran into our pastor and I must’ve looked stricken, because he asked me if I’d had a hard day.  My thoughts came rushing out about my new driver and I knew he’d understand as his youngest daughter is my son’s age.

Coming home from the store, I crossed the creek, cruised up the hill past the chicken houses and met my son  in the road  by the neighbor’s dove field. He was alone, driving his big white-and-gold F-250 and he had the windows down with the breeze ruffling his hair. He stuck out his arm and gave me a big wave and a smile.

For this maiden voyage he drove back roads down to Mountville, where there is definitely no mountain…and no stores. There’s just a P.O., a church, an old school used as a meeting hall for the grange and a volunteer fire department.   The highway was moved years ago and it doesn’t even go through the settlement any more.

A hilly tar-and-gravel road named Ginger Creek  leads from our road down towards Mountville.  It winds past woods and farmland, crosses the creek and makes an inexplicable hairpin turn around an broad old white oak and passes beef cows grazing in knee-high fescue.  My son and my husband used to cruise this road together on our golf cart.  The route must’ve felt familiar, safe.

The boy took time enough, it seemed.  I imagined him with the stereo cranked on some country station,  stopping, caressing the dash, maybe setting a spell in the parking lot by the Mountville First Baptist,  texting his friends  and then moseying home–where I paced and looked out the windows, waiting somewhat restlessly for a cloud of dust.

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