The day he taught me to drive, it was raining cats and dogs. Our boot prints turned into miniature lakes as soon as we moved on. Water sheeted off the tin shop roofs in a solid curtain. I had my hoodie pulled up on my jacket, a futile attempt to stay dry. Rain dripped off the bill of his baseball cap.

The Caterpillar tractor was huge, an iron behemoth dressed in chipped yellow paint and the rust of many years spent in the fields and weather. When the engine cranked, the flapper on the exhaust pipe clacked, releasing a transparent blue cloud. The tractor gave a giant shudder, and the now clear, hot exhaust boiled the water from the sky. It seemed to growl, angry that we’d woken it from its slumber. I almost turned and ran from my request, but I set my teeth and climbed into the seat next to him anyway. We clanked and rumbled our way out of the back lot, my not-yet-husband explaining the purpose of every lever. I still think tractors should have steering wheels instead of levers. He slid onto the arm rest when we arrived in the field and I took his place in front of the controls. “You’ll do fine, I’m right here,” he said to me when I gave him an apprehensive look, and I gingerly goaded the yellow beast into gear.

We splashed and muddled around in the field for an hour. Water fell into my eyes and my bangs hung limp and spongy across my forehead. The straight stretches were easy. Corners were more difficult, but every time I made one right, the warm smell of oil and diesel fuel and hot air enveloped us, warming us for a moment amid the heavy downpour. His comforting, trusting hand never left my shoulder.


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