Last Wish by Angeline Schellenberg

I inch the Camaro forward, your head heavy on my shoulder. I’m going so slow, savoring the moment, I can hear each fleck of gravel crunch under the tires. 

How many times have we driven into town on a Saturday like this one, whether we needed to or not, me in that passenger seat, my nose nuzzled into your neck? I’d wake under the stars on a gravel road, your fingers stroking my hair. All those years ago, you warned me it was a bad idea to fall asleep in a guy’s car. But you never took advantage. 

This is the first time you’ve let me drive and you’re the only one strapped in safe. You always knew I couldn’t miss a ditch. Around the corner, there’s your whole family, eying your car greedily, coats pulled tights across their bony shoulders, back to the wind. A shame I could never win them over. 

Okay, dear: show time! I step on the gas. You should see your aunts’ eyeballs pop! Just like we practiced, Bart, I throw open the door, leap, and roll. The aunties scream and scurry. 

I look up in time to see the Camaro plunge into the hole. Brushing mud from my skirt, I toss the floral arrangement onto the hood and cue the minister.

Angeline Schellenberg is the author of the Manitoba Book Award-winning series of linked poems about autism, Tell Them It Was Mozart (Brick Books, 2016). Her fiction recently won Exposition Review’s Flash 405 Contest. Her elegy collection, Fields of Light and Stone(University of Alberta Press, 2020), was a finalist for the 2022 KOBZAR Book Award. Angeline hosts Speaking Crow, the longest-running poetry open mic in Winnipeg, Canada.