It was a typical August afternoon for Florida. Temperatures simmered in the eighties and the humidity was so thick you could cut it with a knife. My mother was outside gardening and I stuck my head out the front door to ask her how she could endure the heat. She replied, I won\'t be long, I just want to get these ferns planted.

My mother has never demonstrated a talent for gardening, nor a desire. She was covered from head to feet with potting soil and surrounded by her miniature gardening tools. I laughed at the ludicrous sight of her peering up at me from her unprecedented perch. Her sweat-soaked hair stuck wetly to cheeks blackened by stray potting soil and her bare toes peeked from beneath a flowered sundress too pretty for such arduous work.

What\'s your sister doing? she asked on a sigh, wiping her brow with the back of her gloved hand.

I\'m putting away my new school clothes, Mom. Katie, my younger sister by one year, poked her head out her bedroom window, one ear stuck to her hot-pink telephone. Can Chrisi spend the night?

Mom nodded her consent.

Katie\'s head disappeared back to where it sprang from.

You could pour us both a cold glass of lemonade, my mother hinted up at me hopefully.

We don\'t have any ice left, Mom.

Just then my grandmother, 77 years old, pulled up in the driveway sporting her new black 1998 Buick Regal. I sprang across the lawn and greeted her with a hug, calculating that within a month and a half I would be able to drive the sleek machine. My grandmother, who everyone affectionately calls B, had come to invite us to go shopping with her at Beall\'s department store. None of us could go. Mom needed to go grocery shopping, my sister was expecting her friend over and I had already planned on seeing a movie with my friend, Carla. After a few more minutes of generous hugs, kisses and regrets, she was off again. Her car disappeared around the bend that marked the end of our street.

Less than an hour had passed since my grandmother\'s visit. I was busy getting ready for the movies when the phone rang. Katie answered on the second ring and yelled out that it was our cousin, Jim Jr., calling for Mom. I could tell by Katie\'s face that something was wrong. Taking the portable phone from the kitchen, Katie ran out to give it to Mother. Within seconds total hysteria enveloped the household. My mother ran into the house screaming, get in the car now with no further explanations.

I was frightened yet equally angry with her for screaming at us. My mother, suddenly white beneath her garden grub, snatched at the car keys. Still barefooted, she screamed out, Oh my God, this can\'t be true, get in the car now.

Mom, please tell us what\'s wrong! Katie and I pleaded. You\'re scaring us!

Mom was practically speechless but she managed to utter out a few words, I will tell you in the car.

I had never witnessed my mother lose her control before. It made me feel frightened and confused to the point of feeling sick to my stomach. I looked at Katie as she fumbled with the car door. She was speechless, wide-eyed and suspended in a bewildered state of consciousness. Tears fell down her cheeks. I wanted to cry too but the situation seemed so devastating that my real emotions froze. I just kept thinking that it was a bad dream. Any moment I would be awakened and soothed by my mother. She would tell me, in her familiar gentle voice, that I was just having a nightmare.

My mother sped down the road, explaining half-hysterically the contents of that awful phone call. Jim had just returned to town from his vacation and spotted a horrific automobile accident on Highway 301 at the intersection of Morning Side Drive. He had slowed down because of the crush of emergency vehicles at the sight. But one car was unmistakably familiar to him. It was our grandmother\'s black Buick Regal.

The drive to the accident sight terrified me because my mother drove too fast and carelessly. As we approached the accident scene, we were