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van de Velde, S. (2011). Sunflowers. Psychoanal. Perspect., 8(2):290-291.

(2011). Psychoanalytic Perspectives, 8(2):290-291


Suzanne van de Velde

(The story takes place in the 1930s.)

We were on the Middle Road, where we all learned to drive during our summers at the lake. At 15, I was still too young for a license.

Next to the road was a field of sunflowers, radiant and indifferent to the reverberations of metal on metal, indifferent to the burst belly of our car, indifferent to their ruptured pickup truck.

Right after the collision my mother said, “Luke, quick, change places. Now, before they get out and see that you were driving.”

I scrambled over her fat body to the passenger side. Her seat was warm and concave. She put her hair back up with shaky fingers. On the armrest, her lavender powder spun the light into a fairy-tale dew. All of this made me want to puke.

“Remember—Luke, are you listening? I was driving, I was driving. No matter what they say, just stick to that. Hello, yes? Answer me.”

“Got it.” But she was already out of the car.

“Is everyone all right?” she called out.

A girl, about 13, stumbled from the truck, one sandal catching on the running board. There was blood on her dress and in her blond hair. She sat down on the road as though it was a picnic blanket and pie was coming any minute.

My mother stood over her.


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