When my daughter turned sixteen, I bought her a gently used sedan. I’d suffered and saved for almost two years, so I didn’t have to make payments. She jumped up and down when I drove into the driveway, and making her happy brought tears to my eyes and memories of my sixteenth back.
Grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins had come to eat the free red velvet cake my mother made from scratch and the hamburgers my dad grilled.
I didn’t see a car hidden behind the azaleas or on any side of our clapboard house on brick piers. It was April, and already an early summer heat blistered anyone who stayed outside. I knew my parents would surprise me. They’d claimed we were poor, but they always came through at Christmas with plenty of toys for all four of us, and they nursed us back to life from the flu and viruses with homemade concoctions and prayer, but as I blew out the candles and opened presents, including a Hot wheels car my aunt gave me as a joke that seemed humorous to her and everyone else, I found no keys and no one showed up with my surprise car.
As weeks passed, I got a full time job, picked out a Mustang from a dealership, and financed the car in a recession that probably cost me twice as much as it was worth at the end of the four years and made the owner of the dealership even more wealthy than he was. It was a valuable lesson for me—to have no expectations from anyone and to rely on myself and hard work to get what I wanted out of life.
Niles Reddick is author of the novel Drifting too far from the Shore, two collections Reading the Coffee Grounds and Road Kill Art and Other Oddities, and a novella Lead Me Home. His work has been featured in seventeen anthologies, twenty-one countries, and in over three hundred publications. http://nilesreddick.com/