** IN MY CAR **
🚦 Filling up her car after they'd filled up an idle hour at a cosy little restaurant, he watched her from the passenger seat, contemplating how to run a certain something past her. In a nutshell, he didn't like her motor but knew she adored her 'four previous owners' little Fiat. And that level of love was shown by the pristine condition she kept it in. In light of her lax attitude towards tidiness in general, one would half expect to be kicking empty juice bottles aside whilst seating oneself, whereas the vehicle was spotless and smelled divine. However, every time he sat in that passenger side he couldn't help but let his eyes flit all around. Her actual driving skills posed no problem with him - it was the structure of her cherished runaround he took exception to. This silver accident-waiting-to-happen-and-you're-buggered-if-it-does had to go, and tonight would be the night to broach the subject. But he was sure there would be hugs of delight.
Unlike the usual practice of just buying a motor and jingling the keys to a used car (as most parents do in exchange for a marked birthday or reward for hard work), he felt it best to voice it over with her. In effect, he could quite easily buy her a car that he deemed perfect, all tied up in a huge bow with a surprise key hidden in a chocolate box, but felt that a step too far. Apart from the fact that she was twenty-seven and passed her test yonks ago, she was well passed the 'grateful for anything' stage and he figured that she'd want to discuss style, size, make and colour.
Catching him staring at her from the kitchen area as she was doling out the Haagen Dazs ice cream bought at the garage, she dunked the scoops noisily into their sundae glasses and frowned at him;
'Okay, Raptor, spit it out... what's on your mind? I know there's something stirring under that silver mop of yours!'
'Ah - is it that obvious?'
She quickly nabbed two teaspoons out the drawer, and carried their desserts over and bounced down beside him on the settee. Having double the amount of scoops in her glass than he did, one wouldn't think she'd not long consumed a whole sea bass and fries. He watched part-mesmerised as she polished off a whole ball in just three mouthfuls. Shaking her greed off with his head, he continued on with his quest;
'Well', he said deliberately slowly, 'I was just thinking that maybe you could be doing with a different car.'
'Oh. Why?' she asked, part-confused. 'She's running okay.'
'Just thought you'd maybe like another one.'
'If it ain't broke, it don't need fixing, though.'
'Aye, I know, but it'd be— '
'A waste of money, Dad. C'mon, don't be silly. I appreciate the thought, I really do, but she's not at the knackered stage yet. Besides, I know my car inside out, I'm well used to her.'
'You'd have to get used to another someday anyhow.' Saskia tutted then sighed, not wanting to think of her bitty-little car's demise. 'It could break down any minute,' he added.
'So could yours!' Strange. This wasn't going the way Neil imagined, he thought she'd jump at the offer of new wheels. Where was the wide-eyed reaction, the open mouth, the enthusiasm? Instead, it was taking some convincing. 'Anyway, ' she continued, 'the M.O.T. is good for another three months.'
Neil took a moment before speaking again, having been focused on the speed of the scoops now travelling into her mouth, but he didn't click on that that was a sign she was beginning to feel rattled. 'You can't let anything like that hold you back, and a Fiat? Sort of a little-old-lady type car!' He pulled what she perceived as a somewhat disrespectful look on his face toward his déclassé of her car, and she dropped the spoon noisily into her now empty glass. The ice cream may have slid down easily, but it felt as if it was beginning to stick in her throat.
'Look,' he harped on, 'I thought it would be nice if this Sunday we visit some showrooms. You can pick any garish coloured car you like, wheel trims, added extra's - whatever takes your fancy. We can even go shopping afterwards for new covers and cushions - and the best scented car fresheners around. Don't worry about it being a petrol guzzler, I'll make sure you're always well tanked up—'
'Oh, for Christ's sake!' Saskia stood, and marched off in a strop to the kitchen, dumping her sundae glass on the counter. 'Dad, I'm not getting rid of my car and I don't know what ever gave you the idea that I'd want to!'
Neil was stunned, addled. She'd never raised her voice to him before, and it seemed to set him rigid in his seat,
awkwardness well and truly slapping him in the chops. 'Saskia, darling— ' he said, his Scottish accent thickening with her obduracy.
'Look, I'm planning on running her into the ground, however long that takes and I'll probably want a funeral for her at the scrap yard. So, until then - my car's staying put!'
Neil sat forward and clasped his fingers, dismayed and at what he thought would be a good deed. 'Okay, okay... I was only.—'
'Only assuming that I would jump at the chance of zooming around in a motor I would never normally have been able to afford! ' she snipped him off indignantly. 'And how did you picture me then? Tearing along with open windows, music blasting, sneering at people at bus stops when I pass by? Or holding my head hoity-toitily high when carrying my shopping from Tesco and into my needlessly-roomy boot!?'
'No, Saskia... it's not like that.'
No matter how rich Neil was, she couldn't see herself floating around ostentatiously in a thousands-of-pounds present when there was no need. Despite his wealth, it didn't feel right to her. A misty film started to coat her eyes. 'Have you any idea how long it took me to save for that car?'
Well, of course, he didn't. He'd long forgotten the days where he used to work his fingers and feet to the bone for a profit now the money was pouring in from his workforce's efforts. Shamed into silence, he hung his head. He'd never consciously considered it much before but realised he probably delves in with as much subtlety as a bulldozer when relating to money. At this particular moment he couldn't answer her.
'No,' she sighed, 'didn't think so.' Suddenly and validly, she stomped off in an impetuous manner, the slamming of her bedroom door putting the quietus on the situation.
Neil headed for the toilet to dispose of his ice cream. He felt like shit and didn't quite know where to go from here. This ardent plan of throwing joy upon her had bombed. Big time. On the other hand; what else did he expect from someone who gives their car a gender? He gave himself a few minutes before trying the old tap-on-the door, here-comes-the-apology bit. He knew she would be expecting it, it was just a case of how it should be delivered. All he could do was tap and see. Listening at the door there was nothing but silence. He rapped three times.
'Hey, kiddo. I'm sorry. Just me and my fancy ideas. I had no right to decide what was best for you and I promise not to call the shots again. I should have taken no for an answer there...' Still no reaction. 'For the record, though, that car still won't see you to your little-old-lady' stage. In saying that - neither will I... think you can forgive me?'
Her door skimmed open an inch or two and a slice of her face peeked through - his humoristic age-jibe seemed to do the trick.
'Want to catch a film before bed? Joint decision, of course...'
She slid out past him with a look of reproach, giving his shoulder a fun-shove in the process and took her place on the settee. He plunked himself right beside her and put an arm around her. A fresh, unfamiliar wave, almost like tiny-but-pleasant pinpricks, washed all over her. Must be her body and mind's way of reassuring her that all was forgiven.
* * * * * * * * * *
From her room, much later on once she was sure he was asleep, she called her mother, hoping she was still awake.
'Mum? Sorry it's late but I need to let you know.'
'What's up, baby?'
'I don't think I can do this anymore...'
'What do you mean?'
'I had a bit of a row with him tonight.'
Beverly gave an impassive sigh. 'Father's and daughter's do that, don't worry about it.'
'I didn't like it though, it didn't seem right.'
'To be honest I'd thought you'd have your first one a lot sooner, and I wouldn't be surprised if he feels the same.'
'I dunno, Mum.'
'Saskia, you know how things are right now. You've got along okay, this far, haven't you?'
'I felt like swearing at him, then felt like crap for thinking like that.'
'Trust me, Saskia,' she laughed a little, 'I'm sure he'd simply think; like mother, like daughter.' Have you made up now?'
'Well, then... look, love, I'm in bed now. I'll see you in the morning, okay? Nighty night.' And with that blunt goodbye, she ended the call.
Saskia stared at her phone screen. 'Well thanks for asking what it was about, Mum!' she mocked, and threw her phone by her feet, head back on her pillows. So it was fairly late, and her mum was a bundle of worriment these days, but sometimes things needed a mother's reassurance - whatever the time of day.
she stood fixing her jeans in a way that makes it hard not to watch... especially when she added a 'hup' to the jumping action...
end of IN MY CAR