Confession: I should have seen it coming, I suppose, with Friday being the thirteenth and all, but I didn’t. Of course I don’t technically believe in bad luck—
Have I ever told you about Our Lane?
This picture makes it look easier than it is.
But that is a story for another time. Suffice it to say that the public bussing system finally rebelled; and when little Angel Boy goes to school two afternoons a week, we must meet the bus at the fire station a quarter mile down the road.
His bus driver, who had been making the run up and down Our Lane very nicely for some time, said “Well, the day D— rode with me it took her breath away coming over the top, that moment when you can’t see anything but sky.”
I laughed at him. “It’s our own private adrenaline rush. I just hate putting other people through it.”
Friday is one of Angel Boy’s days for school, pick up scheduled for 11:50 am.
We only have one vehicle, now that Our Car is on holiday. Our Car might be a story for another time as well. She sends Hawaiian postcards from Meadville mailing addresses, and we pretend we can’t see her backend sticking out of the snow over there. She’s no fonder of snow than I be.
Ryan was out on the road meeting a client on Friday morning, and the time kept ticking away. I texted him at eleven thirty to remind him of my need for the van. No reply. I called him at eleven forty. No reply. His phone has an unfortunate habit of dying when unconnected to life support for longer than a couple of hours, and my heart sank.
Alright, I said to myself. You will have to drive Our Car to the station, and take both kiddos along.
But by now I had hardly allowed myself enough time to prepare.
I went to get Angel Boy. He wasn’t on the couch where he’d been a minute ago, so I went upstairs where he likes to explore and checked every room. What in the world? I came downstairs to find my daughter laughing at me. Angel Boy had hidden himself behind the rocking chair in the living room.
And I couldn’t get within ten feet without encountering the telltale odor.
Oh son. Really? Right now?
But I can change a poopy diaper in record time (any objections to the word poopy in this context? very well, carry on), and within minutes I had him clean, dry, bundled, shod, and ready to roll. I tucked Kelly and me into our winter gear as well, against the bitter cold.
I toted the children outside, strapped in Angel Boy, opened the frozen door for Kelly, and started Our Grumbling Car to begin warming. Then I girded up my loins to tackle her exterior. Did I mention she’s been sitting in snow? I scooped that off her windshield and found a solid sheet of ice. My best efforts with the scraper did not clear so much as a centimeter. I was now down to just-enough-time-to-get-to-the-station-by-eleven-fifty. Scrape, scrape, scrape, harder and harder—and not a dent in that stubborn ice.
I had nearly resigned myself to sitting and waiting for her to thaw, bus driver or no bus driver, when a familiar blue van turned down Our Lane. Ryan was home, at eleven fifty on the dot. I may or may not have wanted to spear him at this moment.
I switched Angel Boy from car to van, shooed Kelly into the house to stay with her father, and rocketed out Our Lane.
At the station I sat. And sat. And sat.
The last time our bus driver was ten minutes late he told me “I’m sorry, I got stuck in a lane. My own.” And I had laughed at him again. But this was getting alarming, and now I found I had forgotten my phone at home: the bus system could be calling me and I would have no idea.
I’m going to wait until twelve five, I told myself, and then… Um. And then I’m going to make a new plan.
To kill time and steady myself, I pulled Angel Boy’s notebook out of his school bag—the red notebook used for correspondence between teachers and home—to write a quick note on his development. The first words I read were the teacher’s from Wednesday.
“Just a reminder. On Friday the 13th there will be no school.”