Grrr! The gears ground together as Kate pushed the clutch and tugged at the stick. "Ugh!" she said. "I'm never going to get this right!"
"Yes you will," said Andrew. "Just take it easy. Slowly. You've got the clutch in. Now move the stick down."
Grrr! The gears sounded again. Kate slipped her foot off the clutch. The car lurched forward and sputtered out. "I'm never going to get out of the driveway!" she cried. "Why did you let me get this vintage piece of metal anyway?" She rammed her fist against the steering wheel.
"We can try again later," said Andrew. He knew that this didn't come easy for Kate. Her brain was sharp, but her physical limitations made learning to drive difficult. "I know you can get this. It'll just take time."
"Umph," Kate sighed and rolled her eyes. She stepped out of the car and slammed the door. Ever since the accident she hadn't been the same. It took so much from her, but she still had the memories. Sometimes she wished it had taken those as well. They only added to her pain.
If she was honest with herself, it wasn't Andrew's fault that she ended up with the 1970 Mustang. She fell in love with the little red car as soon as she laid eyes on it. The white leather interior was in impeccable shape and the chrome accents gleamed in the sunlight. She pictured herself driving along Pacific Coast Highway in her little red beauty. It was freedom she wanted and freedom she needed. This car could give it to her. And now, she wondered why she had even bothered. Were her limitations going to steal this dream too?
There was a knock on her door. "Kate," said Andrew gently. "Can I come in?"
"Door's open," she said.
Andrew entered the room and sat next to Kate. She was holding a framed photograph in her hands, tracing Sam's outline. Her smiling reflection beamed back at her. Sam's arm was around her shoulder as they leaned against his red Mustang.
"You can't bring him back Kate," said Andrew.
"I know," Kate said, wiping a tear from her cheek. "I miss him so much Andrew. We had dreams for a future together? Why did God have to take him?"
"I don't know, sis. Sometimes there are questions that have no answers."
Kate leaned her head against her brother's chest as silent tears slid down her cheeks. These moments were less frequent. It had been over a year since the accident that took Sam's life and her future. Andrew held his sister in silence, allowing her a moment of solace.
"I'm sorry I yelled at you," she said. "It's not your fault that I'm having so much trouble. I'm the one who chose this car. Can we try again?"
"Sure," said Andrew.
They walked back out to the car. It truly was a beauty. Kate felt determination rise within her. She had conquered so much this past year. The rehabilitation had been painful, but she did it. They said she would probably never walk again, and yet here she was on her own two feet.
"Let's do this," she said.
"Okay, remember what we talked about," said Andrew. "Close your eyes and visualize it first."
Kate closed her eyes and saw herself turning the key, pushing in the clutch, and shifting gears. She took a deep breath.
"Here goes," she said.
She pushed the clutch in and moved the stick to neutral. She turned the key and held her breath. "Slowly," she told herself. She shifted the gear into first and let her foot off the clutch. At just the right moment, she pushed on the accelerator. The car moved slowly forward.
"I did it!" she cried. "What do I do now?"
Andrew coached her through and by the end of the day she drove all the way down main street and back home without any gear grinding or stalling.
Two months later, a little red Mustang turned off Highway 101. Kate sang along with the Beatles, "The winding road that leads to your door will never disappear." She parked the car and got out.
"I miss you Sam," she said. She held a bowl of dried rose petals from their last Valentine's Day. She tipped the bowl releasing petals into the ocean breeze. As the last petal floated away she whispered, "Keep the door open for me."
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