Chapter 5.1: Andrew

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Andrew glared out the window at the overcast sky and the autumn leaves still wet from last night's rain

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Andrew glared out the window at the overcast sky and the autumn leaves still wet from last night's rain. He held a puzzle piece in his hand and his fingers flipped it over and over. Dr. Greene had suggested they do a puzzle at the little table by the window in her office, and he had readily agreed. The last thing he felt like doing today was talking. Of course, the puzzle was just a way to make the silence less awkward between all the questions he struggled to answer.

Today's topic was yesterday's debacle.

"Your mother called yesterday, saying you'd had a panic attack. Would you like to talk about that?"

"Not really," he mumbled.

"Maybe you could talk about what was going on when it started."

He sighed. Part of him wanted to snap, "Why don't you just ask my mother?" The other part knew that if he started getting belligerent in therapy, Dr. Greene could easily call up the school and get him expelled.

"Mom decided I needed to learn how to drive," he said finally.

On Tuesday, when he arrived home, his mother had a package in her hands and a big smile on her face. "Guess what came in the mail today!" she sang.

"What," he said.

"Here, open it!"

Dread pooled in his stomach when he saw the company logo on the box. He used scissors to cut off the packing tape and unfolded the flaps. Then he stared at the device inside.

"It's called a spinner. It's so you can learn to drive!" his mother said, pulling it out from the packing peanuts. "It gets mounted on the steering wheel, and it holds your prosthesis in place so you can hold the wheel steady while you use turn signals and all."

He tried to smile, he really did. Just a few minutes ago he'd been wondering about the car that was parked in Ryan's driveway, and thinking maybe Ryan hadn't had time to get his license with his mom dying. And then he'd thought about how he hadn't breathed a word to his mother about getting his own license.

"We'll go down tomorrow and get your learner's permit, okay, honey?" She ruffled his hair and kissed his forehead while he just stared at the spinner.

He barely slept that night, flashes of shattering glass and headlights bearing down and that sick awful feeling of being trapped and only semi-conscious and pressed up against the body of his father. He stopped and bought a Red Bull on the way to school, which only made his mind race all the more. Maybe she'll forget, he hoped, and repeated that like a chant throughout the day. Maybe she'll forget, maybe she'll forget...

She was already in the driveway when he rolled up on his bike. "I got it installed!" she said, waving the screwdriver. "I figure we can head over to the DMV and you can get your permit, and then you can have your first test drive over at the old mall."

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