“What have they done with it?”
“Looks better, don’t you think?”
She smiles. She is serious. The whole front yard has been cleared out. The grass is short and the bushes have been cut right back. It looks bare.
“He was never going to do anything with it. They gave Mum $50 for scrap.”
I stare at the empty driveway as the engine cools, ticking softly. There is the darker outline of the car on the concrete in front of us, and four marks where the tyres had slowly disintegrated over the years.
“No, come on – what’s up?”
“It’s just a bit of a shock, to see it gone. It was… part of us. Right?”
She looks at me, then laughs. That annoying cackle, like her mother’s.
Staring at her suddenly unfamiliar face I wonder: was it us in that musty, magical car? Was thatour childhood of high-speed police chases, grisly auto wrecks, emergency childbirths on the back seat, endless space missions, doomed road trips across the Sahara? Then stolen cigarettes, shared bottles of beer, our first French kiss and… that night. All of it so vivid and exquisite. The cold leather seats, the smell of old carpet, the sagging roof lining…
“Didn’t it mean anything to you?”
“No! I was actually ashamed of the rusty old heap. This place was always so untidy compared to yours. Come on, let’s go in. Mum will be waiting.”
“You go ahead. I just want one more cigarette.”