Friday, April 8, 2022

Microstory 1860: Beater

I still remember the day my dads bought the truck of my older brother’s dreams. It was a surprise, but papa had to be out of town for the week, so father needed my help to pull it off. I was too young to drive on my own, but we did it anyway, because we lived in a rural area, and nobody cared. Obviously, I drove the old beater from the dealership, not the new one. He then had me hide it behind the barn. When I pointed out that he ought to hide the new one, he just laughed. Of course, my brother was getting the hand-me-down, and father just bought himself a brand new luxury vehicle. But man, my brother took care of that ol’ thing. He scavenged for replacement parts, and installed them himself. He spent every free moment fixing it up until it looked so good, our dads almost wished they could switch. It wasn’t originally designed for off-roading, but by the time he was finished repairing it, it was capable of handling some of the worst terrain. I always admired my brother’s patience and determination, and I loved that truck about as much as he did, though for me, I imagine it had more to do with how much I loved him. He could have used it to drive away from us, but he never didn’t come back. We stayed best friends throughout our whole lives, even after he went to college, even after we met our husbands. We both left the farm, but stayed in town, and ended up at the same retirement home, though I never made it to assisted living, which is where he died. His kids didn’t have any strong feelings about the truck, which was good, because he left it to me in his will. It was good timing too, because everyone figured I had a few months of driving in me before I would have to give it up. But like I said, it won’t come to that.

To honor his memory, I’ve driven up the side of a mountain that most cars can’t survive. They just don’t come with the features they need to hold onto the ground at such steep angles. I believed my brother’s truck—my truck—was well-equipped, and I began to drive up here with no fear. They let me take a small portion of his ashes to spread at my own discretion. This is the perfect place to let a part of him rest. He loved to watch the sun rise and set. From here, he would be able to see both. Unfortunately, I was really more thinking of how good the truck was after it was first restored. It was already old back then, and now, it’s very worn out. Yeah, he kept working on it, but then he got old too, and at some point, there is nothing you can do anymore. It has almost a million miles on it; my God, I really should not be up here. Admittedly, I didn’t think it all the way through—because I’ve also gotten old, and I was never exactly an action hero—it just seemed like a beautiful gesture. I don't scream as I feel the truck tip back past the point of no return. I suppose I’ve been doing this whole life thing for so long that I just generally don’t fear dangerous situations anymore. Still, I don’t have a death wish, so as I’m hanging here, I try to strategize a way out. The problem is, it’s not over. I’ve triggered some kind of landslide that sends me tumbling down, and down, and down. This is when the real beating happens. Rocks fly in through the open window, and attack my face. I’m too weak to keep my arms close against my chest, so they bounce around the steering wheel, stick, and rearview mirror. I can feel my bones cracking, and blood filling up my mouth. I tell you all this, not to gross you out, but to assure you that I don’t interpret any of this as pain. If I had to go out some way, this is at least a funny, tragic story, and I think my brother would have gotten a kick out of it.

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