|britin1729 (britin1729) wrote in qaf_drabbles,|
@ 2011-12-23 14:35:00
She winced. "Gus, try to break more gently. You don't want to throw your passengers through the windshield."
"Sorry, Ma," Gus muttered. He paused at the stop sign, then pressed on the gas. It felt more as if he was stomping on the pedal.
"So, how did it go?" Lindsay asked when they got home.
Privately, Melanie was thankful to have gotten out alive with no serious damage to her, Gus, or the car.
She forced a smile. "Great."
Three weeks later, Gus was doing a lot better behind the wheel. Melanie was sure that, by his sixteenth birthday, he would be ready for his test.
"I was thinking I'd take him out next," said Lindsay one morning at the breakfast table. "He's been driving for almost a month now, and so far he's only gone with you."
Melanie spluttered, drenching her newspaper with coffee. She worked hard to keep her voice casual. "That's alright. I don't mind teaching him."
"I know. I want to do it," Lindsay said eagerly. "I'll take him out on the road this weekend."
At Debbie's next dinner, Brian suggested taking Gus out himself.
"Better you than Lindsay," Melanie griped.
Brian looked horrified. "She's not teaching my son how to drive, is she?"
Melanie sighed. "She took him out last weekend. She swears Gus was responsible for knocking over the trashcans on the way out of the driveway, but I have my doubts."
"The last time I got in a car with her in the driver's seat, it was 1993. I was shitfaced, she was sober, and I still would have been safer if I'd driven myself."
"Hey, you don't have to tell me."
"If she teaches Gus to drive, his insurance will be through the roof."
Brian's solution was simple. "Tell her she's a shitty driver. It's about time."
"Yeah, right. Why don't you tell her?"
"I have. She thinks I'm just a control freak and can't stand anyone else behind the wheel. Coming from you, however...."
"Forget it. I can't tell her that."
"I'm going to give you the same advice I gave Mikey when he was afraid to tell the professor his book was a steaming pile of horseshit: she's your partner, and you have to be honest," said Brian wisely.
"Right, I'm supposed to take relationship advice from you?"
Brian shrugged. "Fine, then. Let her teach Gus how to drive, and see how long it is before he gets his first ticket."
Melanie groaned. "I'm fucked."
Brian downed the rest of his drink and stood up, smirking. "Just because the truth hurts doesn't mean she doesn't need to hear it."
He left her alone, then, and Melanie realized she didn't have much choice. On some level, Lindsay already had to be aware of all this. She couldn't blame all of her tickets and accidents on patches of ice, after all.
It was night the next time Lindsay wanted to take Gus driving. "His book says he needs at least twenty hours of practice after dark before he gets his license," she said, twirling her keys around her finger. "He's ready for that, don't you think?"
Melanie glanced outside, at the thick cover of the night, where people, cars, trashcans, and stop signs were all so much harder to see. Maybe Gus was ready, but Lindsay wasn't.
Melanie let out a deep breath. "Lindsay, honey," she began. "About this driving thing...."
"It's great he's finally old enough for this, isn't it?"
"Yeah, great," Melanie agreed, then said in a rush, "Lindsay, you're a horrible driver."
Lindsay laughed. "Did Gus tell you that? He's been on about it the last few weeks... he must have picked that up from Brian. Like father, like son, I suppose, but Brian just can't stand anyone behind the wheel except himself."
"No, Linds, it's true," said Melanie gently. "I mean, last summer you ran over Jenny's bike in the garage, our trashcan has dents in it from your car, and none of the neighbors will park in the street anymore. I'm sorry, baby— you can't drive."
"That's not true! Just because the sun gets in my eyes, and the weather's bad, and there are ice patches, and I get lost in the city sometimes... I can drive a fucking car!"
"I'm not trying to criticize," said Melanie evenly. "But Gus really needs to learn good driving habits, and I'm just not sure you're the right person to teach him."
"And you are?"
"Well, I'm a great driver. I haven't had a ticket in years, my car's in excellent condition...."
"So what do you propose? That I just don't ever drive again?"
"I have a better idea."
Melanie sat in the passenger's seat, for once not gripping it until her fingers turned white. The turns were smooth, the stops didn't induce whiplash, and she didn't even have the urge to squeeze her eyes shut in terror.
"You're doing great," she said encouragingly.
Lindsay beamed at her from the driver's seat. "Gus and I are lucky to have such a wonderful teacher."
"Well, as long as he's forgotten everything you taught him so far, we're good."
"Just think," said Lindsay. "In a few years, we'll be teaching Jenny."
Lindsay swerved to avoid a mailbox. Melanie winced. "Can't wait."