By Miss Janet L. Hughes
Because our metallic green Ford Galaxy was heavily laden with our most prized possessions.
Because Mom needed Aunt Wanda’s help with me and Lil’ Sis.
Because Texas was half a continent away.
Because the horde of uniformed attendants rushed to us across the concrete.
Because the black smoke and flames were engulfing us.
Because the power-steering line ruptured and spewed fluid all over the hot engine.
Because my four-year-old self watched sparks spit and hiss as they dropped under the car to the pavement.
Because Dad couldn’t help even if he wanted to.
Because the men spent all day going all over town to find parts.
Because Mom cried when she was only charged cost and not a dime of labor.
Because this was the last California station until the other side of the desert.
Because we needed gas.
Because the Air Force had taken Dad away by air ambulance for cancer treatment.