Clara offered to help me fix the car yesterday. I was reluctantly pulling on gloves and searching our closet for a stocking cap, and she started pulling some out for herself as well.

I agreed to let her come with me, although I knew there was probably not much she could do other than provide some companionship in my misery.

Our old minivan had been sitting dead in the driveway for over a week, and I’d been putting off working on it in the hopes that it might get a little warmer outside, or I could work on it when it was lighter out, or maybe the van would magically start working again on its own and I could take credit for it. But none of these things had happened. So, on the first free afternoon I had found in several weeks I was going to go outside and try to mess around with crescent wrenches and ratchet sets, and hopefully get the car running so my wife could make her appointments in the morning.

I rested my hand on my daughter’s purple shoulder and nodded before we stepped out into the cold air.

The little girl did her best to give me room and yelled half coherent questions to me from just inside the garage door. When I wasn’t using a particular tool I would hand it to her and she would hold it in front of herself, pressed between a pair of oversized gloves, the empty fingers bent backwards at awkward angles.

I struggled to figure out if the nut I was trying to loosen was 11mm or 7/16 inches. Then I had to find my socket wrench extension. I leaned over the engine and tried to keep from banging my head against the hood.

When I finally came back out Clara was holding my crescent wrench and extra ratchet parts behind her back and staring up the street.

“Clara, why do you have my tools behind your back?”

“A car drove by,” she said simply.


“A car drove by,” she said again, finally looking up at me, “And I didn’t want them to see your tools.”

I glanced up the street, but the car was gone. “Why would you not want them to see my tools? Do you think they might come back and steal them or something?”

She looked shyly down at the ground, “Um… No. I just thought you might not want people to see them because they are all shiny and new looking and people will know that you don’t actually use them very often.”

“Oh, yeah? Huh… That’s pretty good thinking.” I handed her another socket wrench, “Here, hide this one too.” Maybe this was the sidekick I needed after all.