A woman does what a woman has to do.


Time for the annual state inspection of the ol’ family bus.

Brakes also making a funny noise. Must get that checked out, too.

Pull into the automotive garage.

Go inside.

A woman waits ahead of me.

An obviously heavily-burdened woman.

Her face, her voice, her body language immediately, loudly say so.

Her car’s brakes have been making strange noises, too.

A mechanic comes and tells her the problem.

A major brake problem.

Pads and shoes and rotors and drums and such.

Confounding, confusing stuff like that.

Will take hours to order needed parts, get the  parts, install them.

And, by the way, the cost will be upwards of $500.

She phones her husband.

She likes for him to know about things like this.

He once took care of things like this.

But he can’t now.

Must stay at home.

Heart problems.

Breathing problems.

Other health problems.

He agrees the brakes must be fixed, despite the cost.

She checks her bank balance.

Credit card balance, too.

Finally, she tells the mechanic to go ahead with the brake repairs.

One more thing, she says.

Not long ago, while she was driving, the motor started acting up.

She stopped at another auto repair place.

They told her the car had no oil.

Surprised her.

No idea where the oil went.

They put in oil. Told her she should have it changed after 500 miles.

Five hundred miles?

“Yes, that’s what they said.”

So how much will the oil change be?

About 40 more dollars.

Well, do it. The man at the other place said I should do it.

Her husband once took care of things like this.

Now it is up to her.

He no longer is able to.

She will get a ride home. Come back later in the day to get her car.

Home is here now.

They moved here for health reasons, family reasons. Other reasons.

Some of them sad reasons.

Their longtime home in the mountains – home of fond memories, pleasant surroundings, friendly neighbors, good lifestyle – is on the market.

Must be sold.

Tears well in her eyes as she talks about it.

She loved that home,  that home in the place of the “hollers.” The hollows.

Home is here now.

It was in the mountains, she goes on, that this young woman friend had a baby born with heart problems.

The young mother felt she could not adequately care for the child, asked this woman to take the child, raise it.

This woman said yes.

Has been doing that.

For some time now.

Now the birth mother wants the little girl back.

“But she’s not gonna get her,” this woman vows.

Come what may, this woman will keep the little girl, raise her.

Despite this woman’s own health problems.

Heart problems.

Troubles breathing.

Bad back.

Other problems that she hints at but does not specify.

After awhile, a repair shop worker is ready to take her home while she awaits completion of the repairs to her car.

Home to check on her ailing husband.

See if he is doing all right.

Home to check on the little girl she will not give up, no matter what.

See if the little girl is doing all right.

Home with her own problems.

Problems that will not give her up.

She moves slowly to the door to leave.

She smiles.

I don’t know how.


Roger Summers is a journalist and essayist who spends time in Texas, New Mexico and England and in a world of curiosity and creativity. He is the author of The Day Camelot Came to Town and Heart Songs From a Washboard Road. He can be reached at wrs_author@summersights.com

Washboard Road

Please click the book cover image to read more about the short story collection of Roger Summers, Heart Songs from a Washboard Road.


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