The engine purred. The car rumbled to life while butterflies jumped in Kate’s stomach. Was she really going to do this? What if she crashed? What if her parents found out? No! They were the ones who were holding her back. They didn’t realize how big this party was or how much it meant to her. This was going to be the best party of the year!
With a determined look on her face, she put the silver Tahoe into reverse, and backed the car carefully out of the garage, pressing the button on the remote to close the doors. She had never driven a car before, but she had seen her parents do it enough times. She knew the brake and the gas petals, how to turn on the blinkers, and the windshield wipers. She even knew how to put it in reverse which she had just proven. What else did she need to know?
With a fresh boost of confidence, Kate took the car further down the driveway. She decided it would be easier to keep it in reverse. The driveway went down a steep hill and led to the road, but her older sister had had no trouble navigating it for the first time when she was driving. With a burst of speed Kate started down the hill. The car hummed even louder, and she could feel it’s energy coursing through her fingers. A smile lit up Kate’s face. This was way easier than she had thought. She gently eased off the gas when she was half way down, but the car didn’t stop. Her heartbeat quickened. Kate grabbed the steering wheel and tried pushing on the break, but her foot missed the pedal, and she accidentally turned the steering wheel as she tried to slam on the break again. Kate braced herself as the car swerved off the driveway. She could feel the tires slipping out of control. Only one thought was on her mind. Taking the car had been a very bad idea.
“I already told you why! Your grades are terrible and you know it!” Kate’s mom fumbled with the car keys.
“No they’re not! Angelina is going and she is failing three classes!”
“We are not going to use Angelina as an example. You know what she’s like! I want all your homework done before we get home. Understood?”
“But mom!” Glaring, Kate crossed her arms.
“Kate don’t give me attitude!”
“This is so unfair! All I want to do is go for an hour! Just an hour!”
“Well you’re not, so stop asking!”
“Aaarrgh!” Kate stomped over to her desk and put her face in her hands.
“We will be back in three hours!” Kate’s dad hollered. “Text us if you need anything.”
The sound of the front door closing and the lock clicking into place echoed around the house. A silence only interrupted by the hum of appliances and Kate’s frustrated breathing soon followed. She waited until she could no longer hear the car.
How could they just leave her?
The whole family including moody, twelve year old Bradley had left for dinner and a movie. Kate supposed that this was her mom’s way of pressuring her to care more about school. It’s not that she didn’t care; she just wasn’t interested. She had more important things to worry about like going to Marina Traver’s party. Over half the school was going. Marina had even personally invited Kate. This was Kate’s only chance to be noticed by the popular crowd. She had been hanging out with Marina for months hoping that she might get an invitation to her party. After all her hard work, she was not going to miss it.
If only she could get a ride. Sadly all her friends were either already at Marina’s house or they weren’t going. Just then a thought struck Kate. Her parents had taken the Pilot which meant that the Tahoe was still in the garage. If Kate left now she could have an hour at the party and still make it back in time to do her homework before her parents got home.
Kate quickly switched out her sweatpants and T-shirt for a cute sweater and some jeans. She then grabbed her phone and slipped the car keys off the hook in the entryway, making sure to lock the door behind her. She jogged the short distance to the garage, trying to avoid the drizzle of rain that was starting to turn into a downpour, and unlocked the car. She slid into the cool leather front seat. She looked around the car reviewing where and what all the buttons, switches, and petals were. Closing the door carefully so that she didn’t dent it, Kate grabbed the steering wheel, looked in the rear view mirror and tucked her curly brown hair behind her ears.
“How bad could this go?” She whispered to herself.
Little did Kate know, it was going to go very bad.
Kate forced herself to open her eyes. She was holding on to the steering wheel so tight that it hurt, but other than the pain in her fingers she was unharmed. Cautiously, she looked out the window.
The car was tipped up at an angle. The trees around her all had broken branches and there were tire tracks in the grass. Kate realized that she must have driven the car right into the drainage ditch that ran along the road. Kate carefully opened her door and jumped on to the wet grass. She turned around and saw that both of the back tires were stuck in the drainage ditch and the front tires were hovering a few inches above the ground. Kate walked a circle around the car making sure there was no damage. Other than the fact that it was now soaked, the car was miraculously still in pristine condition. That was one weight off of Kate’s shoulders, but she still had to get the Tahoe out of the ditch and all the way up the driveway before her family came home. Kate tried to Google how to do it, but she didn’t understand what the instructions were telling her to do. She decided she should try and push it out.
Kate pushed her shoulder against the back of the car. She leaned all her weight into it, but the car didn’t move an inch. Thirty minutes later the car was still in the same position. The only thing that had changed was that now Kate was drenched with water. She stared at the hard unyielding metal of the car and realized there was no way she could do this alone. With rain pouring down her face, she decided it might be time to call her friends for help. Emma and Matthew lived just down the road from her and so did Alexis and Hazel. None of them had been invited to the party and she was sure they would help her. Kate sent some quick texts and in a few minutes they showed up to help.
Together they tried to push the car . The friends managed to move the Tahoe a few feet out of the trench. The front tires were touching the ground again, but the car was still stuck. Kate tried to drive it out, but she only managed to wedge the tires even deeper into the ditch. The rain was coming down harder now and Kate could see that the drainage ditch was starting to fill with water. Her sweater was ruined and her shoes would probably take a week to dry out. Kate quietly promised herself that she would never try to sneak out of the house again.
After another unsuccessful half hour of pushing and trying to make the car move, a deep voice called out behind them.
“Do you need a hand?” A young man in a huge truck had pulled up alongside them.
“Hey, Sawyer,” Emma called.
Kate recognized the man as Emma’s older brother.
“Yeah that would be great,” Kate responded.
Very carefully they navigated the bright red truck so that it was right in front of the Tahoe. Sawyer had brought a towing line and they connected it to the front of the Tahoe. Sawyer got back in his truck and started to pull while Kate, Alexis, Hazel, Matthew and Emma pushed the back. Little by little the car came out of the ditch then with a sudden lurch the car was pulled back up onto the driveway. Mud sprayed out from the back tires hitting everyone behind the car in the face. Kate had never been more wet or muddy in her life.
She couldn’t believe her friends had stuck around so long to help her. Kate realized that none of the people at Marina’s party would have stuck around as long. Not even Marina would have. Kate was grateful to all her true friends who had helped her. She suddenly felt foolish for wanting to be popular. She was already cared for enough by her own friends. Kate thanked everyone and promised to never try and drive the Tahoe down the hill again. The friends waved goodbye and Sawyer offered to drive everyone home. Kate stood and watched them drive off before she remembered that she still had to get the car back up the driveway.
Kate had to hurry if she wanted to be back in the house before her parents got home. She got into the Tahoe and drove it up the hill and into the garage with much more caution then she had when she drove it down the hill earlier. She pulled to a stop and jumped out. The car was wet and the tires were muddy, but Kate was sure her parents wouldn’t notice. Kate locked up the car and headed to the house.
She changed back into her sweatpants and T-shirt and hid her wet clothes in the bottom of her closet. Next she dried her hair, wiped the mud off of her face, and sat back down at her desk. Kate glanced apprehensively at the pile of unfinished homework. She was able to finish her math worksheet before she heard the sound of her parents car rolling into the driveway. Kate tried to look like she was busy. The sound of her family’s noisy footsteps drowned out the sound of Kate’s calm breathing. There was no way they would have found out what she had done.
“So you decided to take the car for a test drive?” Her father and mother were standing in her bedroom doorway both with identical looks of disapproval.