This was an entry I wrote in 1999 for an HQ contest for the old Duets line. Unfortuantely for me, it was meant to be a funny story and I wound up writing a poignant one. Still, I liked the way it turned out and so I thought I’d share it here.
“Wow, what a beauty.”
Caroline flushed and turned to look at the twelve year old salesman. They got younger every year. “I beg your pardon?” She squinted, still too proud to admit she needed glasses. The name finally swam into focus. “Ernie.”
The boy smiled. “I said she’s a beauty.”
“The car. You were talking about the car.”
“Yeah, right.” He shot her a look that made her feel older than Methuselah. She knew she’d turned crimson. She ran her hand along the car’s sleek curves.
“It’s the latest thing.” The kid intoned, starting on a litany of the little car’s greatest features.
She held up a hand. “I know all about Volkswagen Beetles.” Especially yellow ones, her mind added.
“Well, why don’t you get in. Get the feel of it.”
She slid into the dark interior, memory flashing. She touched the gear shift, fragments of conversation whispering through her mind.
‘Mark, we can’t. Not in here.’
‘Sure we can, this baby was made to hold us.’
Caroline sighed and leaned back in the seat, closing her eyes. Beyond the scent of new car, it even smelled the same. A Volkswagen Beetle. She shivered with remembered pleasure.
“It’s got a CD player.” Ernie’s voice interrupted her reverie.
“That’s nice,” she murmured, eyes still closed. They’d only had a radio. But it was all that they’d needed. Just Caroline and Mark and the Beetle. Perfection. She frowned, wondering how their life had gotten so off track. Maybe when they’d sold the car, traded it up for a status symbol.
She touched the steering wheel, hearing long ago laughter. Road trips. They’d been poor, but there had always been adventure out there, just waiting for them.
“Um, ma’am?” Ernie again.
“I’m sorry to interrupt, but this one’s been sold. I need you to get out.”
She flushed with embarrassment again. “I’m sorry I…” Tears flooded her eyes. Tears for what had been and what would never be again. Too many things had changed.
A hand touched her shoulder, soft breath fanned her cheek. “Happy anniversary, darling.”
She knew that voice. Heart pounding, she opened her eyes to meet Mark’s familiar cobalt gaze.
He smiled, and held up the car’s key. “Road trip?”
Short story ROAD TRIP by Dee Davis, Copyright ©1999 by Dee Davis. All rights reserved. Reprint only with permission from author. Please contact .