The Problem with Kids

Submitted into Contest #31 in response to: Write a short story about someone heading home from work.... view prompt



“Thank you so much, Harp, I owe you one,” Lillian said as she danced around her desk trying to get all her papers together.  

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, just make sure you don’t stay too late,” I told her. It was almost seven and she still wasn’t done getting everything ready for the big meeting tomorrow. I had stayed back to help her the best that I could, but I didn’t work in her department. 

She had to finish it up, but her son, Asher, got out of soccer practice in thirty minutes and I agreed to pick him up on my way home. 

“I can’t thank you enough,” Lillian said. 

“No problem,” I said, “I’ll see you tomorrow.” 

“See ya.” 

I gathered up my bag and car keys before waving as I walked out. I got into my car and began to drive off towards the soccer field. Lillian and I had been working together for almost four years, and before that, we went to the same college. Needless to say, we were close friends, but never before had I met Asher. Usually, Asher lived with his dad, so I’ve never gotten the chance to see his face, other than in pictures. 

I arrived at the soccer field and looked out over the crowd of kids, running around and kicking the ball into the net. I was never much of a sports guy, I only ever played basketball once because my parents made me, I hated it. 

I spotted Asher off in the distance, circled up with what I assumed was the rest of his team. I got out of the car and began to make my way over to the field. I reached the field just as they were finishing up, and congratulated myself on the perfect timing.  

One by one, the kids got their stuff and went to meet up with their parents. I walked up to Asher and prepared to introduce myself.

“Asher?” I asked, just to make sure I had the right kid. 

“Who wants to know?” Asher asked, turning around and staring into my eyes. 

“My name’s Harp, your mom sent me to come pick you up,” I said. 

“You’re Harper?” he snickered, “Mom talks ‘bout ca all the time. I always thought she was talkin’ ‘bout a girl.”

“Your mom is busy at work and wanted me to take you home,” I said, ignoring his comment. I’d been teased for my name ever since elementary school, I was a little desensitized to it now. 

“Yes, ma’am,” Asher tensed, snickering even more. I just rolled my eyes. In my head, I couldn’t help blaming Lillian’s ex-husband for the kid’s rude behavior. Of course, I would never say that to his face.

“Come on,” I said. 

I led him back to my car and opened up the door to the back seat. As I walked around to get into the driver’s seat, Asher closed the door and climbed into the front. I didn’t argue and just started to drive, eager to get rid of this kid as fast as possible.     

“Why is it so quiet?” Asher asked as we pulled out.

“The radio don’t work anymore,” I replied. 

“Why don’t ca fix it?” Asher questioned. 

“I’m saving up for a new car instead,” I answered. 

“Why?” Asher asked.

“So that I can get a new car...” I replied a little confused. 

“Why?” he repeated. 

“So I have somethin’ better to drive around,” I answered.


I sighed, I was not going to do this, especially with a child that wasn’t mine. Never before had I really had to talk to a kid before, but Asher reminded me exactly why I never wanted to have any. 

I noticed a cardboard box lying in the middle of the road and quickly swerved to the side to avoid hitting it.

“Guess my pop was right when he told me woman can’t drive,” Asher chuckled.   

I glared at him but forced myself to keep my mouth shut. I wasn’t picking a fight with an eight-year-old kid. I was more mature than that. 

“Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” Asher began to chant after a second of silence.

I signed I did not have the motivational energy to deal with this right now. I remembered doing it to my parents when I was younger, I wondered if this was karma coming to bite me in the ass. 

“Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we-”

Before he could finish, I noticed a large truck coming down my end of the road. I slammed my hand against the horn. It was only a two-lane highway, and a car coming down the other side. There was nowhere for me to go. I yanked the wheel, trying to get off the street to avoid being hit, but I was too late, the truck smashed into us.

I was slammed up against the wheel as the airbags were released. My whole world was suddenly filled with smoke. There was only one thing I could think, Get out of the car.

I attempted to rise, but I quickly realized that I couldn’t feel my left leg. I looked down to see that my foot was bent at an odd angle and my knee had almost done a 180. I turned away, disgusted at the sight. My adrenaline was too high to feel any pain, though. 

Suddenly my mind darted to the thought of Asher. Oh, shot... what had I done.

“Asher!” I shouted, but I heard nothing in response, “Asher!” 

My door was flung open and a middle-aged man with a long beard stared down at me. 

“Are you okay?” The man asked, “I have my colleague on the phone with the cops right now.” 

“Where is the kid? Is he alright?” I asked. 

“Kid?” the man replied.

“Yes, his name is Asher, I need you to check on him. I can’t move my left leg,”

Another middle-aged man came over, holding a phone in his hand. He stared at me for a second before turning to his acquaintance.

“The cops are on their way, they should be here soon,” he said. 

“I need you to find Asher and see if he is alright,” I instructed the second man. 

He nodded his head and walked over to the other side of the car. While he was looking, the first man that I talked to started to apologize to me. He explained that he and his buddy were just talking and didn’t realize they had drifted over until they heard my horn, but by that point, it was too late. 

Eventually, the police showed up with an ambulance. Two nurses helped me out of the car and onto a stretcher. In the distance I could see Asher be loaded onto one as well, his eyes were closed. 

“Is the kid alive?” I asked the nurse.

“Yes; in fact, it was your last-minute swerve that saved his life. He didn’t take a direct hit and is only temporarily unconscious mostly due to the airbag not coming out. You, on the other hand, will most likely need an amputation for your leg” she explained. 

I thanked her and asked if I could call Lillian. She went to the car, pulled out my phone, and handed it to me. 

I explained to Lillian what had happened that told her to meet me at the hospital, insuring her that most both Asher and I were alright.

The next day I woke up in a hospital bed, my leg numb from all the drugs put in it last night. I didn’t dare try to move it.

The nurses came in and out, asking me how I was. The doctor came in around lunch to tell me that they could try surgery, but he doubted it would work. I just told him I would think about it, I didn’t have the mental stability to think about that at the moment. 

Later that day, Lillian came in, Asher was by her side. He was in a wheelchair, but other than a few cuts on his face he seemed to be alright. 

“Harp, how are you?” Lillian asked.

“Not dead,” I replied, trying and failing to make her smile. 

“Does it hurt?” she asked. 

“Not if I don’t think about it,” I replied. That was a lot easier said than done, though.

“Then let’s talk about something else,” Lillian said. 

She took a seat and began to tell me about the meeting at work. I had completely forgotten about it. She stayed by my side when the doctor came in and asked again if I wanted to try surgery before. I agreed and he told me what was going to happen and what to expect. 

He left soon after. It was getting late and Lillian and Asher needed to get home. I bid them goodnight

   On their way out, Asher turned to me and said, “Thanks Mr. Harper...” before wheeling out. 

I smiled a little, maybe kids weren’t that bad.

March 07, 2020 03:09

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