Image © Briana Hernandez 2016
|by Catherine Sinow||December 16, 2016|
Delilah’s face was always covered with crust. Sleep crust on her eyes, snot crust under her nose, and tomato soup crust on the slope between her lower lip and chin. Each morning I saw her walking with her dad to their Audi; a vinyl Hello Kitty backpack always rested on her shoulders, and the back of her stringy blonde hair was always braided into a heart.
In the afternoons, Delilah would charge around our street in her pink light-up sneakers, her screeches passing by my window as I attempted Geometry homework. Her parents did not shush her. They stood on the lawn, photographing her with an iPad and periodically handing her Capri Sun.
Last November, Delilah turned six and her parents spoiled her with a mini Jeep. You’ve seen the commercial—it’s a two-foot-high plastic replica of an actual Jeep, powered by an electric motor and adorned with hot pink butterflies. Each afternoon after Delilah’s birthday, I looked out my window and saw the fuchsia-colored death trap plowing around, scaring off dogs and knocking over lawn ornaments. One day, Delilah was almost flattened by a BMW. From then on her driver’s license was only valid in the backyard.
I asked her for the Jeep.
That was that. So I took it in the middle of the night.
I snuck into her yard. People in this neighborhood never lock their gates. I picked up the Jeep with my own two hands, and my chicken arms burned. I lifted it above my head, set it on the top of the fence, and pushed it into my yard. I braced myself for a crash and a chorus of barking from every dog on the street. But all I heard was the sound of something heavy falling into a bush.
I climbed over the fence and saw the Jeep sprawled on its back like a helpless beetle. I slid open the glass door to the house and found my brother somewhere on the 15-foot sectional.
“Timothy, will you drive me to school?”
He looked up from making out with Essie and said, “No.” Essie didn’t even look at me when Timothy and I were talking to each other; she just stared at his face and waited for it to come back to her.
So with no way of getting to school at three in the morning, I had to hide the Jeep. The thought of lifting it up to the fence again exhausted me, so I rolled it into the shed. I nudged the door shut and dragged my feet across the wet lawn toward my room.
When I got home from school the next day, I dropped my headphones on my ears and glued my face to Skyrim. This way, I wasn’t able to hear if Delilah threw a hissy fit. Timothy refused to take me to school each night, and by Friday, my plan had evaporated from my mind.
In March, my mom announced that she was decluttering the shed “ASAP.” Even though I knew I was safe for another month–she once took half a year to call a plumber to unclog the kitchen sink—I knew I had to get rid of the Jeep once and for all.
So at 1 AM on a Tuesday, I got in the damn thing myself, knees sticking out. I drove it on the sidewalk, up a mile-long hill, all the way to school. It was faster than walking, but I still felt as slow as drying paint when the occasional drunk driver whooshed past me.
Thirty minutes after leaving my house, I bounced the Jeep off a curb and rolled it over the gravel of the school parking lot. I locked in my destination, The Senior Parking Space. It’s the closest spot to campus, lotteried to a random senior each school day. I parked the Jeep, hoisted myself out, and admired my work. I stepped 10 feet back, folded my arms, and admired my work again. I stepped another 50 feet back, where the distance made it easy to imagine that I was a student seeing this for the first time. Then I turned around and began my long walk home.
Briana Hernandez graduated from the Art Academy of Cincinnati with a BFA in printmaking and a minor in drawing. She likes to sing and dance publicly. A plastic bottled beer can be found in her tote bag 100% of the time. seagulp.tumblr.com