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|The Ride Home - Page 4|
"I guess being successful means what it's always meant to me," I said finally choosing to tell the truth. "Being important. Being a big shot. Having the kind of career that impresses people, in which you feel powerful. Remember, I'm the kid who wanted to build the laser."
Dad chuckled. The laser incident was a familiar touchstone for us. At 7, for a science project, I'd attempted to combine a telescope lens, a prism, and a small electronic light to build a laser. My parents saw a budding scientist in this exercise, unaware that my real interest in lasers was that they seemed powerful. Saturday morning cartoons always featured a bevy of wild-haired mad scientists with their death rays, hoping to enslave mankind. Although I wasn't interested in lording it over all of humanity, I figured that having my own laser would at least allow me to determine my own bedtimes.
"Are you still trying to build that laser?" he asked with an almost saccharine tenderness.
I slammed on the brakes. Dad let out a sharp grunt as his body lunged forward. A deer had wandered out onto the road, and I'd barely missed it. I caught a glimpse of its charcoal eyes, wide with fear, as it bolted back into the woods. We turned to each other with expressions of simultaneous surprise and relief.