Some days, the smell of fresh-cut grass is the best smell in the world. It is better than every inch of a candle wall, better than night-washed sand, than the ocean after–and before–a storm; thanksgiving dinner, even when you’re really hungry.
I sat in my driveway, on a day like this. I was reading H.G. Wells, The Time Machine; listening to Alanis Morrissett. I looked up from my book, down the driveway.
If time travel is ever invented, I thought, I’ll come back to this moment right here, just at the end of the driveway and wave.
“IT’S NOTHING LIKE GOLF!” My Mother’s voice.
The front door slammed. I turned. My step-father, grumbling, strode past. He was big, smelled like pancakes. He stopped and frowned down at me. His face went a little softer.
“What’re you reading?” he asked. I held up my book. He shrugged. He began to pace.
I put the book down, paused my music.
“Everything all right John?”
“It’s not appropriate,” he said, still pacing.
“It’s just–your mother.”
“What about her?”
John put one big pancake smelling hand over his mouth, “nothing, nothing,” he mumbled.
I peered around him at the end of the driveway; nothing. I picked up my book.
“It’s like, you know how much I like to play golf?” he said, stopping.
I put my book down.
“Well–you know, now. I mean, I love golf. But sometimes, I just don’t want to play. Or sometimes my head hurts or, well, you know?”
“And, well, should I have to play golf if I am not feeling like playing golf? I am old. I mean, how old are you now?”
“Thirteen! See, you could play golf all day if you wanted, twice a day. All night!”
I stared down the driveway, waiting. Someone passed, but they had a dog, they didn’t wave.
“Kid, you listening?”
I looked up. He was looking down at me, his eyes; a sad sort of wild. He sighed. “Forget it.”
He walked away, back moments later carrying his golf bag. He tossed it into his trunk, slammed it. At that moment my mother came out in a towel.
“Where the hell are you going?” she accused John.
John opened the door to his car. “I’m going to play fu–I’m going to play some damn golf!”
Mom flipped him off as he drove away. I looked up at her. She put her finger away guiltily.
“Sorry Sweetie,” she said.
I wasn’t bothered.
“I’m not bothered,” I told her. “Is everything alright?”
She watched John go.
“Oh–nothing. John just can’t–” she frowned, “play golf, with me, anymore,” she finished, weakly. I rolled my eyes.
“You hate golf, Ma,” I reminded her. She started to look sad, a confused sort of sad. I stood up and walked over. I was taller than her by then. I hugged her.
“Maybe John just wants to play golf with his friends,” I said, consoling. She stepped back. Her face took a dark turn. I felt a guilt–an adult sort of guilt. She shook her head.
“Sorry,” she said, looking over at the neighbor’s lawn, “enjoy your day Sweetie.”
She turned and went back in the house. I checked the end of the driveway one last time, nothing.
I sat back and picked up my book, feeling for some reason, as though I owed John an apology.