The first time she saw Lola, Estelle was fifteen. The sun flickered on Lola’s black body as she zigzagged up the road to the farm. Estelle stood just outside the front door in her dirt stained overalls with her long brunette braid hanging at her back. She watched, excited, as the new Model-T came toward her. The closer it got, the more she could see the fright exploding from her father’s dark blue eyes. The pickup skidded to a halt just in front of Estelle. Her father got out and fanned the swirling, choking dust with his straw hat. Estelle covered her mouth and nose with her arm as the dust settled back onto the ground.
“How was it, Pop?” Estelle asked.
“A dangerous mistake,” her father muttered. He continued to fan the air even though there was nothing more to fan away. “We’re taking it back!”
Disappointment slammed Estelle’s anticipation. Her stomach filled with a bitterness that seemed to punch her from the inside out. “But why?”
“Hey Pop! How was the drive back?” Frank emerged from the chicken coop a few yards away.
“How’s she run?” Roger shouted opening the kitchen window.
“I was right. These rigs are useless—not even drivable!”
“It can’t be that bad, Pop.” Frank circled the truck to look it over.
“You boys are not to drive this thing. You hear me?”
The boys shouted a muddle of objections, but their father stopped them.
“Boys! You need to focus on your studies like Eddie says. We can’t send you to college if you’re dead. That’s final.”
Eddie Pratt was a tall and skinny middle aged man with the palest blonde hair Estelle had ever seen. He had tutored the boys for the past year in exchange for free eggs from their farm. Before the boys had gotten too old, they had gone to the school in town. Estelle had gone, too. She remembered her teacher’s warm chestnut colored eyes. She liked to examine the way the skin around them creased as her teacher smiled.
Frank and Roger shrugged at their father’s demand. Roger shut the window while Frank drifted back to the chicken coop mumbling, “Who needs college anyway?”
Estelle’s mouth hung open slightly. How could he say that?
“That goes for you, too, Missy. You aren’t to touch this car.” Her father went inside. Estelle was left to stare at the shining mass in front of her. It beckoned her.
All was unusually quiet. The only sound came from Frank’s hammer in the chicken coop. Estelle looked from one end of the farm to the other and then back to the Model-T Pickup. Then she tiptoed to the driver’s seat and hopped up onto it. The black seat welcomed her, cradling her backside in smooth leather. From the moment she slid her fingers over the steering wheel, she was in love. A booklet sat looking up at her in the passenger seat. She grabbed it and began to skim the pages.
…Three pedals… Clutch (C) Reverse (R) Break (B)… To start… open throttle… place foot on clutch… Release to go faster…
Estelle practiced navigating the pedals and levers before causing the car to groan to life. Lola… Lola… Lolahaaa it seemed to gasp. She circled the dusty space in front of her and took off down the road. The adrenaline pulsed through her veins causing her to shake. She breathed to gain control of her body and found that she moved in straight smooth lines. She finally turned back around and started toward the house. Lola…Lola…Lolahaaa…
She saw the frantic faces of her father and brothers as they rushed outside. Her mother was at the door wiping her hands with her apron. Estelle slowed down before bringing Lola to a halt by the front door. She paused to savor the delicious moment before hopping out.
Her father’s arms were folded and he glared over them at her.
“Estelle Tucker!” His voice boomed. “I told you not to do touch this car! Do you realize you could have been killed? You completely disobeyed me!” Estelle stifled a smile. His bark is worse than his bite, her mother always said when he wasn’t around.
“Pop, don’t be too sore. Maybe she can teach us all to drive,” Roger laughed.