The short story Are We Nearly There? by Kate Smalley Ellis takes place in a car. The main character Jen is driving on the highway for the first time and her mother, father and little sister are all in the car. Throughout the drive family relations surface while Jen has flashbacks to the night before when she lost her virginity.
Jen’s mother is addicted to cigarettes (l. 1) but isn’t allowed to smoke in the car for Jen’s father. That is arguably the only thing Jen’s mother is not able to control. Jen describes her mother on line 24-26: ‘New white hairs spring from her temples like worried antennae. My eyes lock onto her tense profile.’ Hairs springing like antennae may come across as the mother being presented as a sort of alien. She is foreign to Jen in this moment.
Jen’s mother loves mantras (l. 50) which are short phrases that usually helps you remember what is right to do. She gives Jen instructions constantly (l. 59) and tries to manage everything (l. 55). She is tense throughout the whole drive (l. 68) which conveys she does not trust in her daughter’s capabilities. The mantras and micromanagement of the family creates a pressure on Jen to perform and do the right thing.