My dad, Christian, and I spent most of the morning in line at the DMV, and the whole time I was anxious to take my test. I wasn’t nervous because I thought I wouldn’t pass, but that maybe I would get a grumpy old man that would test me and I’d that I’d get even more nervous because of that. Despite my optimism, my father continually squeezed my shoulder and told me that I’d do fine, and Christian would take my hand and give it a little squeeze. It was subtle and my father never noticed. Neither of my parents knew that Cole and I broke up, and that now Christian and I are somewhat together.
I swear though, if the old me time travels and sees who I am now, she’d slap me silly for wanting to be with him. Only a few months ago I thought Christian was repulsive and that he could drag anyone into trouble. Sometimes when I look at him I still think that, but there’s a bigger part of me that can tell that all he wants is some human compassion, and he believes that I’m the one that can comfort that thought. Whatever it is he sees in me, whatever solace he finds, it’s comforting to know that underneath all that anger he holds, there is a genuine guy who only wants what is best for him. As relentless as Christian seems to be, I have been able to see past his tough bad boy facade.
"So I got in touch with my friends the other day. You know, the ones that are going on that trip?" Christian says, his voice low. He glances at me from the corner of his eye, dipping his head low to my ear. His warm breath tickles my skin and I cringe lowly, smirking at him.
"Oh yeah?" I reply back.
He nods, fully looking at me now. "We leave next week."
"Oh, so soon?" I look at him, and a part of me feels sad that already he will be leaving me. I know it's not permanent or anything, but still. I'd miss him an awful lot. To be honest though, I'm not even sure if we are actually together or not. He's never asked me, and we haven't sat down and talked about it. I would like to say that we are together, but how can I know for sure? I'd rather not be the one to just assume anything. Maybe Christian only wants someone to fool around with, to go to when he gets his…urges.
"Well, yeah. I told you that they're planning on going during winter break.”
"Right," I say, now only half listening. I don't really feel like talking about it anymore, to be truly honest. I would like to be able to focus on my driving test rather than worrying about him not being here for my birthday, off doing who knows what with who knows who. Stop it, I tell myself. You sound like an overly protective mother.
"Hey," he says, turning my face to look at him. "What's wrong?"
I'm about to answer, but I hear my name being called. I turn to look, see a stubby bald man when a clipboard in his hand, using it as shade for his little face. He has a handlebar mustache the color of corn crops, big and bushy just like them, too.
I start my way towards him, but Christian pulls me back by the arm and says, "Hey, Buttercup, tell me what's the matter."
I give him a weak smile. "It's nothing."
As I turn away, my father gives me a thumbs up and a very dubious smile that says, you got this, kid.
I smile back and head over to the waiting man, greet him, and next thing I know, I'm behind a wheel.
"You know what to do, right?" the man asks me as I buckle up. His name is Devon R., according to his name tag. Devon seems very hostile; however, he looks as if he is trying to put on this tough-instructor facade, but he is actually the kind of guy with three kids and a goody-two shoes wife and he loves his life. It's understandable — the 'tough driving instructor' character is the proper cliche for these type of situations, according to movies and tv shows.
"Yes, I do," I reply politely. Even if he seems to not be the tough instructor type, I didn't want to take any chances today. If he got strict with me, I knew that I would get nervous, which would possibly result in my failure of the test.
I feel Devon watching me intently as I turn the car on and back out of the parking lot. As I look both ways for any oncoming cars, I see my dad and Christian sitting together on a concrete bench outside the DMV, exchanging glances and smiles and possibly a few words. They do seem to be in a bit of a light conversation.
"Ms. Alder? Go, please," Devon says. He pulls the clipboard higher to his chest, running a pen over the paperwork. I'm not even fully on the road and already he is making me nervous. I wish he'd just put the pen down and watch how I do, then write the evaluation.
"I'm sorry," I say, and ease my way onto the road. There are hardly any cars on the road, which basically puts this test in my favor. This thought raises my confidence level, but I make sure that that confidence doesn't become cockiness and get the best of me.
"Make a right here," Devon says, and I do, making sure that I turn my blinker on and switch lanes as I do. Devon watches me carefully, probably wishing that I will make a mistake so he can mark me down, so he can write something else on the evaluation sheet other than a check mark. However, he does seem impressed; I can see a slight smirk underneath his bushy handlebar mustache that partially grows over his upper lip. "Keep going straight until you hit Resonant, then make another right."
I nod and watch the car behind me in the rearview mirror, who is riding directly on my tail. I turn on my blinker and switch lanes, and once I do the driver presses down on the accelerator and speeds past me, driving straight through the yellow light. Devon snickers and shakes his head as I slow down at the now red light.
"Don't ever be one of those people," Devon requests. I only nod again.
We sit in silence at the red light, watching cars making turns and continuing down the street in front of us. The sun is fully up now. I had forgotten that we came to the DMV at seven in the morning. I look at the clock on the dash and it says it's barely past nine.
I lower the visor to shade my eyes from the sun and lean on the wheel. "This is a very long light," I say, sighing.
"I know it is," Devon replies. "I always take students here to this light to test their patience while driving."
"Why test patience?" I ask.
"Well if you're an impatient driver, your impatience could lead to simple accidents on the road. People try to cut their way through traffic or around someone they're stuck behind that is trying to make a turn, but if you're patient enough, you'll wait, and therefore, there will be no accidents."
I nod, and just as I do the light turns green. I ease my foot onto the gas pedal, not trying to speed through the light, and some guy behind me lays on his horn and quickly swerves around me.
"My point exactly," Devon says, pointing ahead with his pen. He looks down at his clipboard. "Okay, now if you'll just head back to the DMV, parallel park on the street and do it correctly, you'll pass."
After pulling back into the DMV parking lot, I see my dad and Christian sitting in the same spot as I walk past them, back into the building. They're both leaning forward, elbows on their knees, that backs hunched and their eyes squinting in the sun. When they see me they sit up at the same time, palms up and open, their bodies say, so what's the verdict? Christian seems more expectant for an answer.
I give them a thumbs up and they high five each other.