Under the Hood

At dinner, my daughter mimics the whine of her car engine. Entranced, the cats stare at her.

After dinner, my youngest, at 14, carries out the Harry Potter she’s reading and the car keys and starts the car. What’s the sound? my oldest asks.

Power steering fluid is low, I answer.

The oldest tells her sister to turn off the car, and I tell my oldest to put away her phone and look for a dipstick and a reservoir. The youngest pulls out the manual, because it’s always a good idea to read the manual, too. We have a little conversation about the index.

The fluid’s low.

Neither girl asks me how I knew that sound corresponded to which fluid. Who taught me that? In an odd kind of way, I silently take this as a parenting compliment. We drive my car downtown to get more fluid. My oldest is annoyed, and I mention what’s doubtlessly irritating: It’s basic maintenance. You know, it wouldn’t kill you to learn a few simple car skills.

What-ever, she says, and flings open the door of the store.

The distant mountains
are reflected in the eye
of the Dragonfly

— Issa

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By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.

2 comments

  1. I love this so much because my daughter is rather obsessed with trucks and cars and how they work. She’s the one telling us what the weird sound might be (and she’s starting to be right most of the time). Something definitely skipped a generation!

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