I’ve never given a crap about cars. Just never been one of those guys, you know? Pops spent half his life away from his wives and tearing through engines, elbow deep in grease and antifreeze. He went through wives the way most people go through wrenches and it always left a bad taste in my mouth. I never wanted to end up like him.
Me, I only ever had the one wife. Marla was her name and she was a ray of sunshine if there ever was one. Light on her feet and sharp with her tongue, I’ve never met a single other person like her. We were together forty-seven years before she passed and those were the best days of my life. We had two kids together, Jess and Roxy. They were blessed with her ears and her passion.
I’ve still managed to hold on to our house, even though I’m up to my prostate in debt. Jess got married and moved to Minnesota with the grandkids, but Roxy only lives a town away. It’s been three years since Marla passed but every morning I put on my slippers and shuffle out to the coffeemaker, filling the house with that old aroma like it might bring her floating back through the door.
I’ve done my damndest to keep everything the way she left it until now. Her sock drawer’s always a quarter of the way open, the soft pink fabric peeking out just over the edge. The picture of our old dog Emma is still hanging crooked, where she always bumped it with her hip. The headband she used to hold back her hair while she washed her face still smells like the rosemary oil she used to keep her skin so soft.
It’s autumn now, gold and red leaves just starting to drift from the trees. Every time I go outside to rake the leaves I get a feeling in the pit of my stomach, a knot that just twists up tighter and tighter. She loved this time of year. The color of the leaves, the smell before the rain, and the cold sheet of clouds overhead…
She was the one who loved cars. She liked them sporty and fast, bright red bullets she used to slice her way down the highway. I’d wash the dishes, watching her from the window while she scrubbed and waxed those machines to a glossy finish. She’d wear her tiniest shorts when we were younger, bending and flexing just right because she knew I’d be watching. That’s how we ended up with Roxy, though the devil never admitted it.
I hate cars. They’re loud, they’re dangerous, and they remind me of my Pops. But I’ve babied her last car since she left, hoping she can look down and see me shining it the way that she used to. I’ve worked out dents in the metal from the accident and had the paint on the trunk refinished, red as her lips on our first walk by the lake.
I never thought I’d be out here in the leaves, elbow deep in hoses with a flashlight in my mouth and sweat streaking down my cheeks. Who would’ve thought that this would be how I spent my summer, chasing down old parts and ripping the engine out of this lump of metal. Just a few more days and she’ll be ready to roll. Marla didn’t like cars because they were pretty; she liked them because they were fast and free. She loved the road shooting out in front of her and the wind playing with her hair. She would’ve wanted it to be out there, not asleep in the driveway for the past three years.
I’ve been walking around our house, making sure I haven’t missed anything. I’ve fit my new life into three bags. That’s all I need. I’ll throw her headband in the passenger seat with her picture, throw the bags in the trunk, and spread out that old blanket she loved so much over the backseat. I wonder what she’s thinking if she can see me now, what she’d want to say? My Pops too, if he didn’t wind up where the angels don’t fly. I’m gonna just put the key in the ignition, feel her purr for a bit, and tear out of this town as fast as those wheels will spin. They can have the house. They can have the furniture and the pictures and the money.
I’ve got her car and some clothes and all the road in the world ahead of me…
Shane Eric Dent is earning a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing for Entertainment from Full Sail University. Although he loves writing and would happily work on flash fiction, novels, and films, the videogame medium is where his real interest lies. With an intense passion for the medium, a keen eye for industry trends, and strong analytical skills Dent hopes to leave a mark on the industry whether he is helping developers get their games noticed or helping to shape the next big thing. Although he grew up in Texas, he currently lives in Pennsylvania with his lovely wife and wants to live in Toronto even though he hates snow. He believes that cockatiels are the best pets, but he will make an exception for ferrets.
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© 2014 Shane Eric Dent