In the house, we heard screeching tires, a grinding and a heavy whump. Outside, a young girl sobbed in the arms of a young boy. Wheel ruts crossed my lawn, ending with a Honda perched atop a 90-year-old forsythia bush.

Freeing herself, the girl told me, “I am soooooo sorry. I will do anything. I feel terrible.” The boy got on his phone.

She wasn’t injured. I tried to be reassuring. “Well, you don’t have to do anything. Now insurance takes over.”

My neighbor drove in. He was in his driveway when the girl whizzed by. He’s a state trooper, and the blue lights atop his cruiser had a lot to do with her locking up her brakes at a high rate of speed. (His 27-second response time was going to look good on his monthly report.)

The driver reiterated to him that she was sorry, and that she’d do anything. Her father was a policeman in a neighboring town, she said – couldn’t he handle it? “No. There’s property damage. I’ll have to get a statement.”

“It’s not fair,” she sobbed to the boy. He said his mom and dad were on the way.

The statement: two months (how long the driver had had her license); 162 feet (skid, road); 114 feet (skid mark, lawn); anecdote (she didn’t know what to do when the car turned sideways).

The boy’s parents arrived. More hugs and sobs. The car wasn’t damaged badly. Flat tire and wheel sitting at an angle. The boy’s dad put the spare on and asked me about working something out about the lawn and the bush. Couldn’t we all keep this among ourselves? However, our first responder had already talked with the girl’s parents from his cruiser.

The next morning, a knock at the door. There stood the young driver beside a smartly dressed and composed woman – her mother. Mom assured me that this would move expeditiously through her insurance agent. She asked if I’d just tell her what I knew.

We stood beside the shrub and looked down the road. Speed limit 45. As we walked past the end of the house, I shouted, “Hey, kids. Come out here.”

They came. “These are my grandsons, Jake and Ben, visiting from Australia. They’re 7 and 9. My granddaughter, Molly, 6. This is the first time they’ve been able to play together.”

The youngsters suffered the introductions admirably and turned, but I stopped them.

“Remember yesterday after lunch, you wanted to have a water balloon fight?” Nods. “You said you’d pick up the pieces afterward. But I see red, yellow and blue. How ’bout picking them up? Then we’ll go catch mackerel.”

Mom and I talked more as the grandchildren extracted balloon pieces from between wheel ruts. I mused, “I went to Australia twice and Connecticut once to walk each of them to their first day of school. Ben wants to play World Cup soccer. Jake, a teacher – another first-day walk. Molly, a princess. Given the market, that may change.”

We were about done. Molly called, “Hey, Fredpa. Got your jackknife? That barrette I lost is jammed in the roots of this bush. Come cut it out?”

— Special to the Telegram