It had gotten frigidly cold in the few hours since the sun had set. I was sitting on Ben’s bed while he swiveled around in his desk chair; we were both getting tired but neither of us wanted to stop hanging out. It was already midnight, but I had the keys to my mom’s car and it was Black Friday. We finally decided we should down some caffeine and head to the mall.
My mom was already in a comatose sleeping off the Thanksgiving meal we had eaten a few hours earlier, so Ben and I drove off to New Jersey without telling anyone. Though I had been driving for over a year, my hands were shaking as they grasped the wheel of the car: I was driving over the Goethals Bridge for the first time. The bridge was built in 1928 when cars were considerably smaller and the lanes of the bridge were accordingly thin. Notably, the bridge has since been replaced by a bridge equipped with lanes of an acceptable width. While driving over the Goethals was a normal experience for drivers in New York, having my first confrontation with the poorly sized structure at midnight while my mom didn’t know where I was felt particularly reckless.
I made it over the bridge without incident, but when we made it to the parking lot of the mall, we were met with madness. Ben and I weren’t, apparently, the only people who decided to go shopping. Perhaps it should’ve been apparent to us that other people would also frequent a mall on the busiest shopping day of the year, but the horde of cars creating a bottle neck of traffic into the parking lot entrance came as a surprise. It only felt compounded by my traumatizing escapade over the world’s slimmest bridge.
And then a car hit into hit the back of mine. It was a red sedan, and the driver didn’t brake quickly enough to stop his car from hitting into my bumper. My car lurched forward and then rocked backward. I looked at Ben in stunned silence.
My mom doesn’t even know I’m here.
Ben was silent, his eyes wide.
I slipped off my seat belt and put the car in park. Ben opened his door and followed me to look at the back of the car. The culpable driver sat behind his wheel with an expression that made it clear he was hoping I would be too timid to approach him.
Much to my relief, the bumper wasn’t dented.
Ben, do I just leave it? He nodded, convincing me that there was’t really anything I could do anyway.
I could already hear my mom’s voice in my head, telling me that I only made bad decisions like this because I was eighteen and my brain wasn’t fully formed.
So I looked back at the driver and put my hand up in a sign of peace. He was still cowering behind his closed window.
Ben and I got back into the car, and moved forward slowly, the traffic still crawling, the red sedan keeping a safe distance between our two cars as he trailed me.
I can’t ever tell my mom. I just crashed her car while on an escapade to another state in the middle of the night. Ben laughed in response, but it was lined with a nervous energy.
In the morning, after a night of shopping and spending too much money in the Nike store, I told my brother what had happened. There’s always a few things you need to keep from mom, he told me while smirking.
It’s been a year, I’ve since gone back to the same mall for Black Friday, this time telling my mom where I was going. So mom, this is my public confession, a year late. I’m sorry for crashing your car and never telling you. There’s a small scratch somewhere on the back of the car commemorating the event. Please forgive me.