My family had all spent the day together at the park, having a picnic. At twilight, when the sun had dropped below the hill that overlooked the park and it was getting too dark to keep pitching horseshoes, we began loading everything into our cars. The table cloths and folding lawn chairs and foil pans of chicken were all shuffled and packed away in the dim yellow dome lights. Once we had everything squared, I started my car and swung it around, and there was one of my nephews, a little boy of about three, standing in the beam of the headlights, standing out there in the open, giggling. I was so startled that I jerked the wheel and went off the pavement into the grass.
This caused a great deal of commotion, and the boy was pulled aside and scolded for getting in the way, and I found my tires spinning in ruts in the muddy grass, and a bunch of us had to get up under the front bumper and heave and push until the car was free. And then we were on our way again, following one another’s tail lights in a long procession, until we merged with the whole streaming sea of lights out on the freeway. The nephew looked back at me from the rear window of the car ahead, his wet eyes red and sorrowful and sad.