A Wild Ride
So here they were, The Andersons, the newbies in the town of Middlefield. Despite Jake’s less than enthusiastic attitude about the move, his dad’s company gave him a great promotion with all of the promised perks. Everyone was pleased—except Jake, of course.
To Jake, the uprooting seemed more like a demotion, and he seemed to be the only one in the family who recognized it. So far, he hadn’t noticed any perks and the only benefit he’d discovered was having a bedroom all to himself. Of course, it was stuck in the middle of the hall between Timothy and Denise’s rooms, but that was to be expected. On the upside, this meant no more soggy Timothy climbing in his bed in the middle of the night and slobbering on his pillows. He conceded that this was a positive perk, although the price for dry pillows meant having to leave his life behind in the old neighborhood.
Jake was into his second hour of non-stop complaints about unpacking when his mother recruited him to ride along to the grocery store to stock up on the essentials. He believed that it was her way of punishing him since he dreaded riding shotgun with his mother behind the controls. After so many years, Jake was still trying hard to get used to his mother’s idea of driving. It was like no other experience he could relate to. From his assessment, she had absolutely no clue that she was the worst driver in history for someone above the age of seventeen and sober. She barely missed blindsiding not one, but two cars exiting the shopping center parking lot as she rapidly turned into the parking entrance on what felt like only two wheels.
His mom the stunt driver; Jake wondered if the van was equipped with passenger side airbags while he tightly gripped the armrest. She seemed to mistake the gas pedal for a bug scrambling across the floor as she forcefully stomped down on it. The van picked up speed and barreled through the parking lot. Jake caught blurred glimpses of terrified patrons abandoning their shopping carts and dodging out of her way to safety. Just when Jake thought the wild ride couldn’t get any worse, she slammed down hard on the brakes while wildly turning and simultaneously sliding into a parking spot.
“Well done, Marjorie,” she said. She took a look in her mirror and licked her lips while congratulating herself. Jake looked down at his white knuckles. “Aren’t you impressed with how I nabbed this primo parking spot, Jakey?” his Mom asked with pure sincerity in her voice.
“Actually, you’re taking up at least two spots,” Jake said as he peered out of his fogged window. He was hot and breathing heavily. He could feel the sweat dripping down his back and knew that all of the blood had certainly left his face. His knuckles were still colorless; his hand had not quite relaxed from its death grip on the door handle.
“Two places? Are you sure? Well, I can fix that,” Marjorie chimed merrily. Jake watched as she checked her mirror several times.
Since she appeared to be making an effort to be careful before backing up, Jake began to relax. He soon regretted that he had even mentioned the error in her parking. As Jake turned around to assess her progress, he caught sight of two people walking behind the van. His mother was about to run them over.
“Mom! Stop!” Jake yelled, throwing his hand out to signal her to stop in a reflexive gesture.
To his surprise, it actually worked. She stopped—but not until the terrified pedestrians jumped out of her path. They were screaming for their lives and yelling what Jake could only imagine were obscenities.
Jake sank low in his seat from utter embarrassment. He had caught a glimpse of the near victims before his heroic action that prevented them from being plowed down by his mother. They wore cheerleading uniforms that were the colors of the new school he had to attend the following day. Great introduction as the new kid!
Jake was mortified. His mom quickly climbed out of the minivan and began apologizing profusely while explaining how she had not driven in such a long time. It was like she was on autopilot. She was talking at a double time rate and babbling about how she was actually an excellent driver when not distracted, and how she was just so excited about finding a great parking space.
Jake sank further into his seat while strategically positioning his arm and tightly cupping his hand over his face to block any incidental eye contact. He hated being caught in such an embarrassing altercation. He slid lower while praying for a miracle to stop her nonsense and bring about an end to his humiliation. He waited until it quieted down and decided it was finally safe to sit back up in his seat. Before he knew what was happening, three people were peering in his side of the minivan window. His mother spastically waving her hands in a motion that he knew was a signal for him to lower his window.
“Are you kidding me?” Jake mumbled as he reluctantly followed her command. He let the window down just enough to take in some much needed fresh air.
“Jake, this is Shayna and Ashley. They attend your school and will be classmates.”
Jake could tell that the girls weren’t the least bit interested in meeting him; they just wanted to take inventory of the loser offspring of the rambling, clueless woman who had nearly ended their cheerleading careers. After fumbling to get the window fully lowered, he took a deep breath.
“Hey, what’s up?” Jake said. This was all he could manage to blurt out but he was sure they were already through the automatic doors of the grocery store before the second word was out of his mouth.
That was rather sad and totally lame, Jake thought. He had rehearsed what he would say on his first day of school and how he would try to make a great first impression. He was definitely making an impression—but not the one he had daydreamed about. His mom’s insane driving was either going to kill him or totally annihilate his social life before he even had a so-called social life.
The one good thing that did come out of the whole nearly fatal driving incident was that he had gotten a glimpse of the caliber of students at his new school. If Shayna and Ashley were representative of his new school’s student body, then he would surely be among the best looking. He had noticed something especially appealing about Shayna. She was stunning, with long, dark wavy hair and warm exotic brown eyes. Her air of confidence was even more attractive. He had only been in her presence for a few seconds, but he had memorized her smile. Although her movie star smile was obviously forced as a polite effort to appease the woman who had nearly ended her life, her good manners were worth noting.
As he made a mental checklist of Shayna’s attributes, he got excited, for the first time, about going to a new school. There was something about Shayna that he couldn’t ignore, and he had a feeling that she would be important in his life. He tried not to make too much of this nagging feeling and ultimately decided to chalk it up as a simple attraction. Deep down, he knew it was more than that, but he just didn’t know exactly what it was.