Close Call

Comments (0) Featured, Fiction, Issue 5, Writing

By Hannah Deneve

Sitting towards the back of the deserted lot, I can see its dull silver glean: a 2004 Honda Accord with cracked leather seats, a dent and scrape along the left side–caused by a minor accident back in 2018–and a broken cassette and CD player. It’s not pretty, but it gets the job done, I remind myself. If my car could speak, it would merely sputter wet, unrelenting coughs, like that of an old smoker in their last six months–or at least that’s what the doctor says. Maybe it would then mumble under its breath–in a hoarse voice–probably something about my ungratefulness. How I just don’t appreciate all the hard work they’ve put in all these years, ranting like a disappointed mother. 

“Get rid of me already if I’m such a bother,” it would say.

“Don’t start with me again,” I would respond. 

I plop myself into the driver’s side, which immediately reminds me why I hate this rusty piece of shit car. Its heat lets off a musty, dank odor, which then permeates the confined space. Not much of a choice given this cold, dreary weather. The seat warmers only produce spurts of warmth periodically, practically giving your ass temperature whiplash for the duration of the car ride. Maybe I’ll play the radio. The dated speakers, crackling, play “Break My Stride.” The song’s peppy beat lightened the mood, filling the air with bouncy fun energy, breaking the drab streak of my day. I felt the flow of the song course through my veins, causing goosebumps to form on my arms. Soon my voice joined alongside Matthew Wilder’s, creating a harmony that was certainly not needed or asked for.  

    I take my mind off the winding roads, letting it drift away. Besides, it’s a routine drive anyway. I can map these roads, in intricate detail, all in my head. Sometimes, when I’m driving, I run my fingers along my thighs, tracing the curves and turns, mapping my way home. The rough denim fabric is unpleasant to dry skin, irritated by incessant hand-washing done throughout the day. I know I must take this next right on Madison Road. I know that after that, I will take a left onto Peterson Drive, and so on.

    My mind’s still lost in thought. I’m passing through the Peterson intersection–

Bam

The sound of crumpling metal and glass fills my ears. I am suddenly surrounded by it, unable to react, to move. My weight shifts entirely to my left side, pressing me tightly against the driver-side door. For a brief moment, I notice the world around me in vivid detail. How had I not noticed how tall those green trees were before? Or those beautiful purple pansies planted along that old wooden fence? Suddenly, my Honda’s shitiness made no difference, not at all. I could get the cassette and CD player fixed. I could buy an air freshener too. I’m not so sure about the seat warmers, but I think I could live with ‘em. I mean, I’d much rather have a toasted ass then not one at all. 

    My car is rolling now. The metal frame scrapes along the black asphalt, no doubt leaving a nice streak of silver paint in its wake. I’m sure that will buff out, I reason. The seat belt constricts against my chest, fastening me to my seat. The old napkins that once sat in my cup holder are now fluttering about, obscuring my view. 

Everything stops now. The napkins fall back to the floor. I’m sitting upright. My head pounds relentlessly; I can feel warmth trickle down my aching temples. I lean back, pressing my head against the cushioned headrest. For a brief moment, I’m comforted by this old car, by everything that’s wrong with it. I try my best to collect my thoughts–

Bam.

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