Have We Done 642 Things Yet?


Oh, nowhere close to 642 things? Yay, that means there are so many left to do!

By now you know the spiel, yah? There’s a book with 642 things to write about in it and every couple of weeks or so, I randomly select one, write for 15 minutes, and post the (largely) unedited result here (sometimes I can’t help but make a tweak here and there). Sometimes – okay, never, but I have my fingers crossed that it will happen someday! – you guys post your own responses in the comments. Fun, right?

Join me!

This week’s writing prompt reads thusly:

Complete the following sentence, and then continue writing: My first ______.

I love the endless possibilities of this one. Here’s mine. Reader beware, it’s a bit drippy and sentimental.

* * *

My first car was beautiful. Not to anyone else, of course, but to me she was perfect.

Betty was a ’95 Pontiac Grand Am, white. I didn’t know anything about what went on under her hood, but I knew she’d take care of me, and that was enough. It was love at first sight, rank smoke smell in the upholstery and all.

The day after she arrived at my front door, squeaky clean and humming on a fresh new set of tires, we went flying down the highway, the wind buffeting around us like ecstatic freedom. My knuckles on the wheel were white, struggling to keep the wheels between the lines, falling in love but not quite trusting yet. We zoomed down the asphalt together under the grey October sky, and slowly, slowly, I relaxed, loosening my grip, sinking into the grey upholstery embracing me.

Betty and I did a lot together, took many moonlit jaunts on the highway between towns, green and red traffic lights blinking like a lighthouse at the top of the hill, visible long before I ever got there, swooping closer, further, closer, a mirage, my body tight with teenage angst.

Quiet moments of joy: driving down a deserted street in my hometown, under a new moon, speakers seeping one of those sad hopeful songs my heart loves to break to. Feeling like I could go on being 17 forever.

Stormy, heartbroken moments, too: slamming my palms against the steering wheel, tears on my face, sure that I’d never feel whole again.

I did though.

Because Betty saw the first blossom of real love, too, when I pulled into a sunny July parking lot to pick up a tall blond boy in shorts and a red t-shirt, and rammed her undercarriage into a parking block. She didn’t hold it against me; I was nervous, and I’d put her through worse (Frederick the Fallen speed limit sign comes to mind). And later that night, when he leaned across the front seat and kissed me, his hand on my face and chills racing across my skin, the moment was burned into my car as much as it was into me, a vaporous ghost of a memory lingering.

I cried when I said goodbye to Betty, running my hand down the slope of her hood like I might stroke the nose of a beloved horse. My fingers lingered in the strip that was missing paint; I never did figure out what happened. It felt like being ripped away from my memories, from who I was before I slid into her interior for the first time and put my hands on the wheel, and everyone I’d been since then. Betty held it all, but when the time came, she flared her headlights happily in the hard afternoon sunlight, and I leaned against that tall boy’s shoulder, and felt like maybe we’d both be okay.

You never really forget your first love, after all.

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Jessica can most often be found with her nose in a book, or writing her newest short story/screenplay/novel, but she also has a passion for travel, child-care & development, psychology, feminism (and other forms of equality), and making the world a better place in general. Email Me