Guessing the Color of Cars

By Michelle Railey

There were days, a long time ago, when my sister and I sat on a porch swing. Eating popsicles, when the sun was shining, after it rained, always summer. We were children. We watched the street. We played a game I call “Guessing the color of cars.”

Here’s how you play: you call out the color of the next car that will drive past. If you’re right, you’re right and your sister knows it. If you’re wrong, you’re wrong and your sister knows that, too. But it’s, pardon the sorta-pun, a two-way street: if she’s right, you know it, and if she’s wrong, you know that, too. And that is how a summer afternoon is passed in the early 1980s or maybe the kids these days still play it. Somewhere. I doubt it, but you never know.

We didn’t keep score, my sister and I. We might have tried to, but after 5 or 6 cars, well, the days were languorous in a Tennessee Williams sort of way and, when time is sticky, the point spread doesn’t matter much. I’m right with a white car and then she’s right with a blue.

What is magnificent isn’t the game: it’s the fact that you’re there with your little sister and time is elastic and you rock on a swing, in the heat of a summer afternoon, and the next car could be black or maroon. You’ll both be right. You’ll both be wrong. No one wins. No one loses.

I miss those summers, swinging on a porch swing with my sister. I miss the times when our only mission in life was to guess the color of the next car that would drive past. I miss the times when it didn’t matter if we were wrong or right, it was just waiting and guessing and seeing and it was downtime: watching the cars while part of our brains were dreaming of other things, any other things. The summer was endless. Anything was possible.

The next car is red.

If there is a heaven, time is like that there. An endless summer afternoon, sharing a swing with my sister, guessing the color of cars in a game that is no game at all. Everyone’s a winner. It’s summer. And the world and your life stretches in front of you, an open book with endless pages.

And perhaps the next car will be blue. So many of them are blue.


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