Still she wouldn’t look at me. She backed up the car, but instead of turning left into the street she turned the wheel hard and drove up onto the lawn. Right over my bike. It was hard not to make a sound, but I didn’t. Mom backed up, and then drove over it again.
Sergeant Defenbargh just stood on the porch and watched. In my imagination I gave him a salute as we drove away. I hoped he saw it.
Mom’s hands were shaking so much that she pulled into the McDonald’s parking lot. She wasn’t crying. This was something worse. She grabbed my wrists with both hands. "I love you. Do you understand?”
I didn’t answer. I kept my words locked up real tight.
There was nothing I could do. That was what being a kid was. You had to follow orders from whoever was closest, or whoever’s voice was loudest. And that was my mom. Day after day of July came and was gone. I was getting better at math, and spent whole afternoons figuring out how many hours it had been since I saw Sergeant Defenbargh. Then how many minutes and seconds. I didn’t use a calculator either, just a pencil and my spiral notebook.
One night Mom sat me down to talk about Sergeant Defenbargh. She said that he loved me very much, and she knew I loved him, but I wasn’t allowed to see him anymore. At least not for awhile. I thought about explaining that I didn’t love him. That wasn’t the right word. But I didn’t know what the right word was, so I just nodded. Nodding wasn’t a lie.