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Learning to Drive

learntodrive

Brie was an elementary teacher with all the characteristics Ivan thought they should have. She wore little-or-no makeup, her hair was always in a ponytail ready for action and she always wore a smile across her rose-y cheeks; she was beautiful.

“Guess what?” she said.

“What’s up?” Ivan perked up.

“I convinced your dad to teach you how to drive. He said he’ll do it tonight!” Her eyes lit up and she went for a hug. She gave Ivan a tight squeeze; he just stood there.

“Just like your father,” she said, “we’ve been together for 5 years and he never hugs me back.”

“Then why are you with him?” he asked.

“It’s a give and take. He wants someone to love him and I want someone to love.”

“It sounds like you’re just giving,” said Ivan, with a childish innocence.

“It may be. But I think we’re the perfect couple,” replied Brie with confidence.

“I know I’m just 14, but I’m pretty sure there’s no such thing as perfection,”

“Well,” said Brie in her teacher voice, “your dad and I used to fight a lot, now we don’t. All I did was start believing we were a perfect couple. So you decide”

Ivan stayed quiet. He knew better than to fight with a grown-up, even if that grown up was his seemingly perfect step-mom. May be she was right. May be all it took for some things to change was to believe (as cheesy as it sounded).

“Hey! What’s up, son,” yelled his dad as he came in.

“Not much, just talking to Brie.”

“Oh, yeah?” Dad grabbed Brie by the waist and kissed her. If he tried hard enough, if he believed hard enough, Ivan could see them as the perfect couple.

“Why don’t you two take off before it gets darker,” suggested Brie.

“Alright! Let’s go!” said Dad. He was excited, may be a little too much. It’s all in my head, what do I know? Thought Ivan.

“What do you say we pick up Martin first,” said Dad once in the car.

“Sure,” said Ivan. Martin was Dad’s right-hand since Ivan could remember, so he didn’t mind. Plus, Dad seemed a little weird, making the extra company feel nice.

Dad stopped in front of Martin’s house and began talking about car stuff to Ivan.

“You got it?” asked Dad after a while

“Yeah, I believe so,” said Ivan

“You believe or do you know? Because there’s a difference”

“Brie doesn’t think so”

“Brie,” Dad let out a sigh, “Do you like her?”

“Yes! I mean, she loves you, right?”

“You think she does?” asked Dad

“It doesn’t matter what I think,” said Ivan, “her acts show she does”

“Yeah, I believe they do,” said Dad quietly.

Martin’s house door opened, Dad and Ivan got out of the car.

“What’s up kiddo?” said Martin, he always smelled like alcohol, but Ivan had never seen him drink.

They all got back on the car after a few minutes; Ivan took the wheel with Martin as his copilot and Dad in the back.

Ivan drove with no direction in particular, practicing his stop-and-go and his turns; Martin and Dad just talked. The conversation went from work to politics to a funny story to a memory and back to work. After a couple of hours of this, both men seemed to run out of things to say until dad broke the silence.

“I feel lonely back here,” said Dad in his best young and playful tone.

“I bet a lady could fix that,” said Martin.

Is this an inside joke? Ivan didn’t know. It must have been, since Martin spent more time with Dad than him. He wasn’t about to find out, so he shook it off and tried to play along.

“We can stop by your place, if you want. Maybe Brie is still up,” suggested Ivan. “I believe its past Brie’s bedtime,” said Martin, with the same playful tone Dad had used.

“I believe it is,” replied Dad, with joking airs of sounding fancy.

“Let’s not bother her, then,” said Martin, and winked at Ivan. Dad laughed.

Martin began giving directions, Ivan simply drove. This will be a good night, I just have to believe, said Ivan to himself.

“Son, what would you think if I had someone besides Brie?”

“Like a lover, you mean?”

“Yes”

“But not exactly ‘love,’ huh?” said Martin with a chuckle. Dad laughed.

“Stop here,” said Dad.

Ivan pulled over; Martin leaned and flashed the lights. A woman with the likeness of Brie and Ivan’s mom, but younger, walked out of a house.

“Alright kids, I’m trusting you tonight, you don’t see or hear anything,” said Dad.

The woman opened the door and jumped in the back with him. They kissed then she extended her arm forward, “Hi! It’s so nice to finally meet you!”

The steering wheel turned cold. Ivan set the car on drive and stepped on the accelerator, the woman fell back.

“Hey!” screamed Dad, grabbing her.

Ivan blinked and slowed down.

“So sorry, it’s my first time driving,” he said. It wasn’t.

“I bet you were just amazed that your old man still had it in him, huh?” said the woman, “he was lucky to find a girl like me”

“You believe that,” said Dad in the same flirty and playful tone. Ivan just drove.

“Do you go to school?” she asked

“Yes.”

“What are you studying?”

“8th grade.”

“Oh, you looked much older! I bet it’s the good-looks-genes your daddy gave you, huh?”

“Mhm.”

“He looks so much like you! Why hadn’t I met him before?” she asked Dad

“We just don’t hang out much,” answered Dad, “I believe tonight’s a special night,” he reached and gave Ivan a playful nudge on the shoulder.

“Then let’s keep making it special!” the woman said, “tell me about yourself.”

“I go to school.”

She laughed, “Well, I know that! We just talked about it. But tell me more. What do you like to do? Do you play any sports?”

Does she ever shut up?

“Ivan doesn’t talk much if he doesn’t find it interesting,” explained Dad.

Where the hell did Dad find her? For how long has this been going on? Stop thinking. It’ll be a good night. Just believe it’ll be a good night, Ivan told himself.

“Ah, smart like his father,” she said and kissed him.

Ivan just drove.

“What about your beliefs?” she asked

“What about them?” asked Ivan distantly.

“Well, do you think actions or beliefs are more important?” she asked.

Ivan thought for a moment, then it hit him,

“Actions are definitely more important.”

“Oh! I think so too!” she said. No, you don’t, thought Ivan, does she ever shut up?

“Do you believe in God?” she asked.

“Yes.”

“I do too!” yelled the woman.

Dad laughed, “Oh, do you now?”

“YES! I don’t want to go to hell”

“You can believe in God and still go to hell,” interrupted Ivan.

For the first time since she had gotten on, the woman stayed quiet.

 

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2 Comments


Monica
11/09/14

This story brings to mind the ideas of belief and observation. If we get caught up in seeking beliefs that just make us feel better, we may overlook what is really there and how to work with it best. For example, Brie says her and Ivan’s dad are perfect and all she had to do was believe. However, upon observing his actions and what he is doing, Brie probably would not call that perfection. Just because she believes does not make anything true. What is true is more of what can be observed. The lover thought believing in god would save her, but Ivan made her reflect when he said that believing didn’t necessary mean salvation. She also said she believed actions were important, yet here she was with a married man. This story made it clear that beliefs are not always aligned with their respective action. Using observation, may yield to more fruitful perception.


Alice Phan
03/08/15

Actions vs. Beliefs. As proven in the short story, beliefs are not always what they seem to be. This is a very powerful message. Actions speak louder. Actions are more tangible; you cannot (physically) grasps onto anything with just beliefs. The two ideas are undeniably related, but belief, by itself, will not get you anywhere. Well done, David!

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