Brake Lights

By James M. Chesbro

August 22, 2016

Brake Lights

On Sundays my father’s red brake lights flashed ahead of me as he held a newspaper out the window of his car. I took his hand-off and ran to the next house where the heavy editions of the Philadelphia Inquirer thudded onto the steps of porches and stoops. On the first day of my first job, as I ran back to my father’s white Buick, where the motor hummed and news radio played through his open window, I saw a robed woman with rollers in her hair. She stepped with caution toward the curb and waved.

This woman still moves in the paper route of my mind. I see her when I’m loading the car with my bag and my son’s mini-cooler for daycare. She shuffles out of my memory in the morning in the form of my neighbor who lives in the house across the street.

When I strap my son into his car seat, the plastic clip clicks, and the woman across the street, wearing slippers and a bathrobe, bends carefully at the waist to lift what I assume is the Connecticut Post. She does not wave. Cars scatter leaves to the curbs of our busy street. Red brake lights flash at the intersection, and none of them are my father’s.

Comments (2) - Post a Comment
I am struck by the contrast between your family life and neighborhood, when you were a kid, and the impersonal scene at the end of the piece. I see the brake lights and hear the click. Thanks
Mary at 9:29pm EST - January 26, 2017
I love how the memory of helping your father and remembering that woman has stayed with you all these years.
Violet Yaldo at 10:07pm EDT - September 8, 2017

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