Today, we are excited to share with you our newest edition to our New Voices catalog, “You Can’t Take it With You” by Jami Kimbrell. Kimbrell’s story follows a mother and her daughter on a road trip to see the narrator’s own mother, near the end of her life. You know the kind of story you’re in for when the daughter asks, “Will she remember me this time?” Dive in below:
“Would Nana even know we were gone?” I look her square in the face to respond and I freeze. I don’t have an answer.
The line to the ladies’ room extends into the beer aisle. I wait, rocking from foot to foot. My thirteen-year-old daughter weaves her way quietly through the souvenir racks, picking up snow globes, pieces of driftwood, shrunken alligator heads, catching my eye only once while inspecting a bedazzled conch shell. The line moves slowly but finally I’m in a stall when my phone rings. I don’t recognize the number, so I let it go to voicemail.
While washing my hands, a toddler boy bumps into me, pulls paper towel after paper towel from the roll while his mother changes the diaper of a boy that looks to be his twin. She apologizes to me, to everyone around me, to the invisible God of the convenience store that is surely judging her.
I snag a bottled water and head toward the check-out counter when I hear my daughter’s voice.
“I am rowing to you on the great, dark ocean.” She is holding a postcard with this quote scrawled across an ominous sky that seems to be swallowing the churned up waves beneath it. She asks me why the ocean must always be dark. I tell her the quote is Caravaggio, but she doesn’t know who he is. Regardless, she says, her question is still the same.
She wants the postcard, so I buy it too. When we are back on the highway, she asks how long it will take to get to the beach. I explain the route, possible traffic delays. “I hate long drives,” she says, “especially for stuff like this.” She leans her chair back as she studies the postcard.