User’s Manual, 2009 Honda Accord

Taylor Thackaberry

Don’t park under trees, don’t drive on gravel roads. Close the sunroof before you park, or rain will get in. Your father loved this car, and only gave it to you because he loves you more. It will last a long time if you take care of it.

This is how you check the oil. This is how you check the wiper fluid. This is how you jump-start the battery in the winter when you’re world-weary and cold and just want to go home for Christmas. If the oil is leaking, park over an old moving box. What did I tell you about driving on gravel roads?

This is how you change a tire. This is how you change lanes on I-81 so people won’t honk at you.

Don’t park outside without putting up the sun shield. If you need to cry, do it in the Target parking lot; everyone’s done it there at least once, no one will judge you.

The radio has six presets: you’ll know you’re getting close to home when they stop playing static. You’ll know you’re even closer when the roads turn to gravel. I told you, take the other way. These country roads get bad in the winter, and I don’t want you driving on them.

You’re the Friend with the Car now, a powerful and dangerous position to be in. Can you pick me up at the airport? Can you drop me off at my friend’s house? Can you pick me up from this party? You can say no. And when you do drive someone, don’t be afraid to ask for gas money. Driving home will cost you forty bucks in this economy; only do it if you really need to, we’re not worth it.

Driving friends home should be an act of love. It says, I want to make sure you get home safe, I want you to stay out of the rain, I want to prolong the time I say goodbye until the very last possible moment. Don’t let that boy you like walk home in the sleet. Drive him home, and then on the drive back, blast your favorite love songs and sing along like you mean it. Unless he lives on a gravel road. Then make him walk.

Most importantly, always text me when you get home. I’m not there to drive you anymore, and I want to know that you got back safe.



Taylor Anne Thackaberry is in her fourth year at Virginia Tech studying computer science and creative writing. She hails from Purcellville, Virginia, a place with far too many gravel roads. Although she considers herself a prose writer, most of her published works are poetry. She has been published in Silhouette, the Virginia Tech literary magazine, and was a finalist for the Steger Poetry Prize in 2018. In her free time, she enjoys paddleboarding and trying to find her place in the world.