“Count me out of it!” Mama says, “Because I want nothing to do with it. Not a thing…” Her hands grasp the steering wheel. “Count me out, count me out, count me out.” Mama mutters this to the air. She’s speaking as if the air has a bone to pick with her. And she intends to win. “No. Thanks.”
Niahra and her mother have some of their most intimate conversations in an old tiny white car. Whenever you think that piece of junk is going to break down it manages to keep driving until it gets itself home. Then. In the morning you put the key in the ignition and the car won’t start. The engine will make a little hum and then almost whinny like a horse. You put the key in the ignition and try. Again. And what do you hear? The engine’s hum and its wimpy horse whinny. And there you go. Reliable on the road, but can’t start it in the morning.
Well. At least you can trust it to drive you where you need to go when it’s on the road, because the car has yet to break itself during one of Niahra and Mama’s epic conversations.
And it’s in the car where Niahra touches stories with her Mama. Figures out where her Mama’s story ends and where hers begins. And that’s why the girl never leaves the car. Always thinking of some errand to run, or something that she just so “happened to forget.” It’s to bide time. No matter how long the ride is, no matter the circumstance, she’ll stay. Don’t want to miss this! I may never get to hear it again! She thinks as she watches her Mama’s hand turn the steering wheel. This one is gonna be good. She anticipates. This one is gonna be reaal good.