"You are not much like your mother, are you, Melissa?" I shook my head, remembering how just the day before Robert had thrown my mother into a door. In my mind, I saw her crumple to the floor. I loved my mother with my whole heart, but I never wanted to be like that.

"I think I'll buy you a red Pontiac Grand Am," my father said and watched for my reaction.

I was shocked. My own car! Suddenly all thoughts of my problems at home faded away. With my own car, I wouldn't have to transfer schools. I could stay at Shadle for as long as it took for Dad to build his dream house. I could take Jason and Carrie away from Robert and the horrid little basement we had to share with him. We would have freedom. As we talked, the thought of being able to drive was thrilling, although a red Pontiac was not my personal taste for a car. At first I thought that if Dad was going to spend money on my first car, I wanted to pick one that fit my style. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that I didn't really care. I looked at all of the vehicles in the parking lot, and the freedom they represented for their owners. I realized that a car was a car! If a Pontiac was what my father wanted to provide, a Pontiac it would be.

Just outside of our window, my father and I spotted a beige car pulling into the restaurant parking lot. A man in a suit got out, removed a piece of wheeled luggage, and placed it by the passenger door. Then another car pulled up. Another suited man got out and brought an identical piece of wheeled luggage out. Without a word, the two men traded their baggage, got into their vehicles, and drove away. What the heck?
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