My car has been falling apart since I first bought it. In some ways, it's a lucky thing. It looks so bad from the outside that no one in their right mind would dream of trying to steal it. If the locks worked, I would still never have to worry about locking it.
I love my car. I love driving it fast down rural roads, with the moon roof and the one working window open so that the wind can ruffle my hair. I turn the music up loud, and I sing until my throat is raw, and I can feel the tension leaving my body through the tips of my fingers and the ends of my hair.
Out here in the boonies, you can't drive anywhere without racking up biomass. Little flecks appear on the windshield. Splats of red, brown, and yellow. Smears that used to be sentient life. At night, they appear in your high beams, illuminated, like those "Balls Of Light" that show up in pictures of old, dusty houses, the ones that paranormal investigators claim to be proof of ghosts.
At high speeds like this, my car feels like it's going to shake apart. The bad wheel makes a lot of noise. I turn the music up louder, threatening to blow out the ancient speakers.
Yesterday, I drove out to see my great grandmother. It was her eighty-ninth birthday. It's terrifying what age can do to even the most beautiful, fierce, independent woman.
Her living room is filled with flowers from family and friends, though she can't tell me who most of them are from. She still remembers me, although she doesn't remember me calling her to say I was coming over. During the half hour that I stay, she asks me four times where I am working, and if I enjoy it. She asks five times how I knew it was her birthday, and twice how old I am now.
She talks about how much she misses my mother. My beautiful, vivacious, self-destructive mother. She asks me to talk to her about coming to visit. I say that I will. I don't want to add that mom has cut ties with everyone in my family except my brother and me. I don't want to tell my grandmother my fear that she'll cut ties with me, too, if I push the subject.
A nurse from hospice pulls into the driveway. I let her in, and take my cue to leave. I decline for the fourth time to take some flowers home with me, and kiss my great grandmother good-bye.
On the way home, I drive extra fast and turn up the music extra loud.
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