By Shane Kowalski
My mom says not to fall in love with a car. She coughs up into a tissue wrinkled in her hand. There’s blood in it. It’s dark and I’ve committed myself to going to bed at the drop of the hat of darkness. But I want to finish watching the movie with my mom. The red car, full of sex, runs over a greaser. We don’t see it but it’s implied.
That is not a way to go, my mom says. I put another blanket on her. I feel like I’ve put a thousand blankets on her.
She says: If I made this movie, I wouldn’t have the car be a killer. I’d have the car talk about something sophisticated and it would also be in England.
I tell her that would be boring. She says she can’t stand these movies. She coughs again and keeps her eyes glued to the screen. I wonder if this is a true story, she says.
She listens to cars on the road outside. Autumnal. They sound murderous. I like to think they have love in their hearts, she says. Then her eyes dart to the TV where the car is killing another teenager. She says eww but doesn’t insist on changing the channel.
She says this is not a very good movie, but when the car and the possessed teenager who is in love with the car are felled—jilted and jealous lovers—she is thrilled. Don’t fall in love with a car, she says again. Coughs again. Night holds us softly. The ghost sounds of cars in the dark are comforting. They’re not here or close, but reachable if needed. Which is nice. It is nice to be here while events are happening elsewhere. Eyes are being shut on naked bodies. Affairs are getting smacked out of their jars like ketchup. Feelings keep refusing getting lost. The stars, tonight and every night, are not romantic but there, always there. I love my mom.
Shane Kowalski was born outside of Philadelphia. His work appears or is forthcoming in Puerto del Sol, New Delta Review, Passages North, and other places. Currently he's a lecturer at Cornell University.