Dodge Dart, 1972, weird shift mechanism

The Dodge

I’m watching my mother drive while she and my father argue. My father tells her, “Don’t think about it, it just makes you sad.” The girl in the backseat pushes herself forward and starts fiddling with the radio. Monster Mash comes on, much too loud. “The procedure’s not as complicated as you think,” my father yells as my mother swerves around a child in a spiderman costume. I’m not feeling anything yet, or maybe just a pinch. More children, dressed like pirates and insects, lurch into view.

The steering wheel has disappeared, and there’s a pumpkin on my mother’s lap. The pumpkin is moldy, collapsing, and she looks as if she doesn’t want to touch it — she holds it with just the tips of her fingers. Children swarm into the car. My father snaps a space helmet over my mother’s head and adjusts the neckpiece.

The girl in the backseat starts crying again, but I remember she was always crying, messy tears the size of acorns, with a sound like a kitten caught in a sewer. “He says we don’t have enough,” my mother tries to say to the children as they open and lift her purse, her skirt, but the words are muffled through her plastic faceplate.