Deleted Scene from My Secret to Keep
I devoted endless hours researching the design of the car, the interior and exterior colors, and where all the dials and knobs were located on the car Anne would use to teach Maggie to drive. I knew that car perfectly. And then my editor deleted the entire scene. (Trust me, it was a good call).
To set the scene: The year was 1970
Anne tossed me her car keys. “You can drive.”
I came to a standstill and attempted to toss them back, but they landed on the floor at her feet. “Don’t be ridiculous.” The pitch of my voice shot up a little higher than usual. “I can’t drive. I don’t have a license. I don’t know how.”
Anne placed the keys firmly in my https://www.amazon.com/Nowhere-Near-Goodbye-Barbara-Conrey-ebook/dp/B08CHMXFMYhand and wrapped my fingers around them. “I’ll teach you.”
Anne’s car, a beautifully restored 1949 candy-apple red Buick Roadmaster convertible, cost more than the house I grew up in. And even though it was a classic, I swore I could still smell the white leather interior whenever I opened the car door.
I looked out the window. “It looks like it might rain. You don’t want to take your car out in the rain. I bet that car hasn’t been out in the rain in all the years you’ve owned it.”
“Don’t be silly. You’ve been telling me for months that you want to learn to drive.”
We moved from the house to the garage. “Go on, get in.”
“I don’t think…”
“Maggie, just get in.”
I shot her one quick look of annoyance before sliding behind the steering wheel and gripping it until my knuckles turned white.
Anne walked around to the other side and slipped into the passenger seat. She closed the door softly behind her. “You need to relax.” Uncurling my hands from the steering wheel and taking the keys from my fingers, she added, “Just keep your hands in your lap for now.”
“Your car is worth thousands of dollars,” I stammered, stating the obvious, leaving the rest unsaid.
“Don’t worry about my car. Just relax. Let’s get you familiar with where everything is. Look,” she said, pointing, “here’s the ignition, the lights, the windshield wipers. Before you know it, you won’t need to look when you turn the lights on or the wipers. Just sit here and look around. Practice turning on the lights. Here’s the button to put the top down.”
I sat, frozen, with my hand on the lever to turn on the windshield wipers. It wasn’t raining yet, but I would be ready when it did.
“Put your foot on the pedal. Good. The point is to make sure you can easily reach everything. See? Here’s where you can adjust the seat. Does that feel comfortable?”
I nodded, even though I knew I would never be comfortable behind the wheel of her car.
“The right pedal’s the gas. The left one’s the brake.”
My right foot rested lightly on the gas pedal, so I moved my left foot to the brake.
“No, no, you only use your right foot. You need to move your foot back and forth from the gas to the brake when you want to start and stop.”
Learning to drive was more complicated than learning to use a sewing machine. And I didn’t need to worry that a sewing machine would take off by itself. I rested my head on the steering wheel and closed my eyes. “I don’t think I can do this.”
Anne chuckled. “Yes, you can. It’s not that hard. But you need to relax.”
When I slipped the key into the ignition and turned on the car, my forehead was slick with sweat, and my right foot had a cramp that practically curled my toes up out of my shoe. And I guessed that would be a problem since I needed that foot.
Fortunately, Anne always backed into the garage, so I was faced in the right direction when I inched down the length of the driveway. But that was as far as I wanted to go.
“How do I turn this thing off?’ I moved my right foot to the brake, and we both lurched forward even though the car was probably only moving a little faster than I could walk. I should have thought to ask that question before I needed to know the answer.
“Why do you want to turn it off?
“I changed my mind. Just tell me how to stop the damn thing!” I grasped the steering wheel as if my life depended on it.
Anne placed her hand on mine. “Just relax. We don't have to if you don’t want to do this. I won’t make you do something you don’t want to do.”
My hands automatically relaxed on the wheel. “Really?”
Anne nodded and explained how to turn off the car. “Hold your foot steady on the brake and put the car in Park, then pull the emergency brake on. We can try this again another day.” Anne leaned across the seat and kissed me on the cheek. “Maybe when it doesn’t look like it’s going to rain.”