The next day Doug called. “I’m sorry about last night. Do you want to go to the mall?”
“Sure,” I said. It was better than staying home.
I finished my conversation with Doug and hung up the phone. Father was standing on the other side of the kitchen table. “Was that Doug you were talking to?”
“Yes, he’s coming over to pick me up and we’re going to the mall.”
Father’s voice grew louder. “What are you still dating him for? He’s never going to be anything. He’s just a “pump jump” at the gas station. All he does is pump gas. He’s never going to make any money…”
Father’s voiced droned on as I stared at the wallpaper. A grinder behind him became a focal point for my eyes to settle on. I tried to turn off my ears from inside my head, but instead I felt a snap. My mind swirled as his words dug into me.
“You should know better,” he continued. “He’s a loser. He drives too fast and he’s probably going to kill himself driving like that. I don’t know what the hell is wrong with you.”
The grinder betrayed me as the handle started spinning while I stared. I tried to block out Father’s words but the churns of his words sliced into my brain. I grew dizzy. I stared more intently at the grinder and willed for my brain to stay intact. “I don’t know what’s wrong with you, you stupid dope.” I stood frozen, inhaling and exhaling, concentrating on my breath. The slices and chops in my head were deafening; I no longer deciphered Father’s words but only watched his lips moving. I felt my brain reduced to fine powder. Finally, Father walked away. My hands trembled. I was mad at myself for allowing him to batter me.
I once again promised myself I would never forgive him.
Doug and I spent a lot of time on the phone. My family had a phone in the backroom and I could talk on the phone from 1 am to 3 am and I would not disturb anyone. Doug told me he sat at the kitchen counter at his house.
We discussed movies, those we had seen, and those we were looking forward to seeing. Where would we eat dinner Saturday night? What would we do in a few years if we got married?
Winter arrived, bringing lots of snow. For the most part we had outgrown sledding, but Doug introduced me to a new form of winter fun. We went to the mall parking lot and Doug did “donuts” in the parking lot with the Chevelle. Doug drove the car 50 miles an hour and then turned quick to the left, spinning the car. We laughed hysterically. Then he stopped the car, and went again, this time spinning to the right. Tears filled my eyes from laughing. Suddenly we noticed blinking lights. A cop car pulled up next to us. Doug stopped the car, as the cop walked over to us and knocked on the window. “License and registration, please.” Ugh, what a killjoy. Doug handed over the documents. “Okay, you need to either park the car or leave the area,” the cop said.
We left, and took the backroads to get back to my house. On the way, Doug amused us with the snow. He took a corner too fast and banged the car into a tree, which swiped both front fenders and the hood. The car was still drivable, but looked bad. He dropped me off at my house quickly, without my parents seeing the damage to the car.
A week after the fender bender with the Chevelle, Doug replaced the front end. He found a red hood and front fenders and swapped out the damaged parts. He had intentions of painting it dark blue to match the rest of the car but never quite got around to it. It was the only car like it in the area.