Short Story

But I Didn’t Mind

The Food Lion parking lot was particularly busy for noon on a Saturday, but I didn’t mind. I sat contently in the passenger side seat of my best friend’s Jeep Cherokee with my feet propped up on the dashboard, tapping perfectly in-sync to Goo Goo Doll’s Slide singing loudly from the radio. Jill had already been inside the store for a good ten minutes, but I didn’t mind that either. She likes to take her time and mosey along with things, and usually that annoys me. But not today. It was too nice of a day outside. The sun was shining delicately through the windshield, warming my face as I rested it on the window opening, the warm breeze brushing against my left cheek.

I couldn’t help but to smile. I was in such a good mood with the music, the warm weather, the fact that it was only Saturday and I still had another night to go out drinking with my friends. I smiled at the man collecting the carts, pushing each one together and combining them before bringing them to their resting point at the cart return directly next to me. I smiled at the mother who passed by in front of me, holding her little girl up in her left arm, laughing and kissing her face as she pushed her cart full of groceries with her right. I smiled at the cars that crept by, slowly browsing for an empty spot in the tiny lot. I even smiled at the frat boy in the black convertible to the right of me, who fed me a terrible pick-up line before winking and bending down to get into his car.

And although it would usually annoy me any other time, I smiled while looking at the condition of the inside of the car, with the piles of Bojangle sandwich wrappers covering the floor, among other loose odds and ends. I hate clutter, especially in cars, but today I didn’t mind. I smiled as I looked up and saw the air freshener softly swaying as it hung from the rear-view mirror, keeping time with the breeze and the beat of the song. But I was suddenly distracted from the air freshener and its coconut aroma to the sufficient amounts of smoke coming from the corners of the hood, and the man in the blue pick-up truck stopped in front of me, mouthing something to me as he pointed to the front of the car. Then I stopped smiling.

The smoke began to rise and build as I tried to jiggle the keys from the ignition, so much that it soon covered the entire windshield, covering me, and the car, in a blanket of white. I could no longer see anything, not even the man who was trying to help. With one last jimmy, I yanked the keys from the ignition and grabbed my bag and schoolbooks, and I quickly threw open the door. Green liquid began to gather around my feet as I stepped onto the asphalt, before slowly immersing them entirely.
“You’re leaking antifreeze all over the parking lot, young lady,” the older man in the blue pick-up said to me. He pulled his baseball cap further down over his face so I couldn’t see his eyes. “You better get that taken care of before you try and drive that thing.” And with one last finger point, he was gone.

I looked down to see puddles of green run together and travel down the parking lot. The smoke from the hood finally began to die down as the second person pulled up along side of me. This time it was a rather large man who appeared to be in his late forties, driving a black Mercedes. “You’re radiator’s definitely shot,” he said. “You better not try and drive that thing, unless you want to blow up. When’s the last time you got that piece of junk looked at?”

Before I could respond, a small crowd of bystanders gathered around me, all wanting to take a peak at the leaking, green ooze that now flooded the entire Food Lion parking lot coming from the car about to go up in flames. They moved in closer around me, asking questions about the jeep and its current condition, overwhelming me with their expertise and opinions, smothering me until my face grew hot and my pulse pounded out of my chest. Then I saw Jill, exiting the front of the store carefree with a single, plastic bag in hand, taking her time to walk to the car, moseying along. I waved my hands in the air in a panic, and she merrily smiled and waved back at me, completely clueless to the situation. Suddenly, I became annoyed.

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