We’ll Laugh About This Later

The Cacapon

We ran out of gas today.

I blame myself because I didn’t say anything when I saw that the small, perilous, orange circle beneath the “E” was lit. I get so tired of hearing, “Oh we can get another 30 or so miles easy; we’ll get gas when we get to the state line,” so I said nothing.

I should have. Because about six miles out, I felt that gentle hesitation that you get when the gas tank is low and the car is headed uphill. I mentioned the feeling to him.

“I think you just lightened up a little on the gas pedal,” came the response from the passenger seat where my husband sat.

“No,” I said, calmly “I didn’t.” I am exceedingly aware of signs which might indicate potential for trouble. One might even go so far as to say that I am hypervigilant. I am also exceedingly aware of what is happening when I am driving. I love driving, especially in these hills.

Half a minute of quiet passed.

“SHIT!” came the voice from the passenger seat, ““SHIT! SHIT! SHIT! I forgot to put gas in the tank.”

Another thirty seconds of silence elapsed.

“SHIT!”

We live in not quite the middle of nowhere, but close enough… and it’s small, old mountains, up-and-down hills with winding narrow roads that are a dream for someone like myself who grew up with a father who raced and drove hill-climbs, but these are not roads that are kind to you in bad weather and they are not roads where you want to be stopped around a blind curve, of which there are plenty.

When the tank in my car hits one quarter full, I’m in the first gas station I see. My husband, who takes a nickel personally, will pass a somewhat pricier station, that annoying little orange light staring him right in the eye, and head for someplace where gas is cheaper… unless I, in my reliable anxiousness, am with him, in which case he will pull in, put in a gallon, and drive to the cheaper station miles down the road.

So now, here we are, miles from both home (where a gas can holding the frequently needed gallon of gas sits on the edge of the gravel driveway near where we were recently parked), with three similar but empty cans in the trunk, along with a couple of months’ worth of recycling. Numerous small hills and winding roads lie ahead of us. The gas station is perhaps ten miles away.

Occasional swear words are still emanating from the passenger seat area, albeit more softly, but I am as calm as if the cat were sitting in my lap because there’s nothing to worry about, as far as I’m concerned; we are running out of gas and that’s all there is to it. Nothing I can do except handle the driving the best way I know how, so I brake less than I might otherwise on the downhill slopes allowing the Toyota to gain enough momentum to carry us as far up the next incline as far as it can without needing assistance from the gas pedal, hoping, hoping, hoping that we don’t run out of gas on the small one-lane bridge just a mile or so down the road.

It’s never pretty when someone gets in trouble on the bridge. There’s not a lot of people out here but somehow traffic seems to back up pretty quick… at least there’ll be someone to help push if needed… though it’ll be a bit of a push because we’ll have to get to the intersection at the top of the small hill because there’s no gravel on the roadside… no roadside when you come right down to it, just marsh that’s flush with the blacktop.

As it turned out, we made it across the bridge… and about another 50 feet, just enough to reach that crossroad where, if you turn right, there is an area where you can pull off and there, the car silently gave up the ghost. And, oh, did I mention that it was well below freezing? But my husband’s luck being what it is, there was a kind of a house nearby… one of those used-to-be-a-trailer places with a satellite dish bigger than a house behind it and a little wood shed that didn’t look long for standing. He got out of the Toyota, pulled out one of his trusty empty gas containers from the trunk and trotted down the drive, returning shortly with the obligatory gallon of gas which had been freely shared.

We made it all the way to the ‘over-priced’ gas station where we got another two gallons and then headed into town to drop off the recycling, do our weekly shopping, and finally fill up the damn tank.

He apologized… for forgetting to put the gallon in before we left home, for getting angry. He knew there was no need to apologize, knows I’d forgive him damn near anything, knows that I know that it was himself he was angry at, so he’s covered that base for me, just like all the other things he takes care of for me, just like he’d never dream of getting angry with me for some of the relentlessly stupid things I’ve done. Most people would say, “You’ll laugh about that later.” We don’t usually wait.

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