Toyota Camry

January 2nd, 2014

He’d waited until the last day he was in town to do this, tomorrow he’d fly out and probably wouldn’t be back until the next summer. He stepped out across the dry dirt parking lot, the dusty wind sweeping his dry jeans and hair.

He paused to look at it. That Toyota Camry. It was old, and had a dent in the side, and a small crack on the windshield from shooting bb guns with Jack and Wilson. The speedometer no longer worked – He would always joke that he broke it because he went too fast (but that was more of a story to make himself feel better). The odometer had stopped working, too, unless you pressed the reset prong enough times, then it might start working, if you were lucky. Oh- and the plastic front bumper had started to break off, just managing to hang on. And yet, all of these things, and it fit him like a glove. He was comfortable in it. It felt right to him. If you had tried to trade another car to him, or tried to buy it from him (you’d have to be insane to do so), he’d have turned you down cold. It was his car.

He opened the door and sat inside, memories flooding back. He sifted through the old CD’s, aged and faded sitting on the dash. All the sounds of angst and melodramatic hardship. A smile cracked across his face as he shuffled through them. He tossed them all into the trash bag he carried with him. He stopped himself – one of them caught his eye. He reached into the bag and grabbed a homemade cd with sharpie writing on it, titled ‘Searching for your Farewell’- A song he and his friends had recorded in high school. Not so he could listen to it – No, god, no, he never wanted to hear that thing again. He kept it just so that he could keep anyone else from listening to it. That’s how most things in high school end up, anyway. So much blackmail potential.

He sorted through the other trinkets and odds and ends at the front of the car, and through the glove box. A note that Esther had left on his car as a joke, made to look like a parking ticket. The tassel from his graduation cap. A necklace made from a bottle cap, given to him by Mae (what she was thinking giving him a necklace made from a bottle cap, he didn’t know, but he smiled, because she made it for him anyway). At the bottom of the glove box, an old parking ticket- he looked at it, then promptly tossed it into the trash bag. Paid.

He pulled the parking brake, stepped out and pulled the front seat forward, making room to step into the back seat. The back seat. Damn. So many memories. Like that time he and his brothers and his friends all crammed into his car after a game of backyard football to get to the Burger joint on Cherry Street. Four people in the front, five in the back. That might have been the point where the car started having trouble, although, you never can pinpoint these things.

And that time with Rachel. Damn. He sat in the back seat, remembering her smile, her playful smile. And her hair – that golden hair that was so soft and beautiful. He remembered the rush when she first pressed her lips against his.

He slid out of the back seat and opened the trunk, shaking off the memories of the back seat. He emptied the trunk of the Toyota, grabbing and sorting through old football cleats and grimy gloves from weeks of yard work in the hot Texas sun.

He collected the trash bag and the rest of the random assortment of belongings and shut the trunk. That was it – He wouldn’t ever have the chance to drive it again, or blare his music on the road in a rage of freedom, or cram his friends in for a late night run to Cook-out, or kiss Rachel in the back seat. All of that was left in the car – He couldn’t take that with him.

He looked across the lot to the house. His flight left at 10AM from Austin, and he wasn’t even packed yet. He closed the door for the last time. All of those memories were in the car, and the car was sold.

He turned.

And walked, the dry, dusty air whipping across the dirt lot.

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