Viruses and infections abound right now. There are thousands of people stuck at home trying to get better. I’ve been fighting a bug, myself. Being stuck at home with no energy to do anything is horrible.
One of the few ways I find solace when I’m home sick is by reading. So, I decided to share one of my stories with everyone in an effort to lift spirits and alleviate any boredom borne of staying cooped up.
“Gold Grand Prix” was first published in Writers’ Digest: Show Us Your Shorts in 2014. It was then published in the 2015 fall issue of The Main Review.
I’ve written many stories over the years, but “Gold Grand Prix” remains one of my favorites. I hope you all enjoy this little break from the monotony.
The full moon showing through the deep purple clouds appeared ominous against the night sky as Jasmine hurried home. Icy wind pierced her thin sweater rendering it virtually useless. Her high heels clicked eerily on the sidewalk as she increased her pace. Glancing furtively around, she could swear she saw a pair of glowing eyes watching her from the bushes. She quickened her steps again as she heard a rustling sound.
She should have known this evening was doomed from the very beginning. Feeling pressured into an ill-fated date with her mother’s neighbor, Jasmine really tried to connect with Bill. Unfortunately, the man never ceased with his incessant chatter. His idea of an interesting topic revolved around his fishing boat, golf stats, or successful career as the city’s premier dentist. He was so full of himself that she wasn’t even certain he realized that she hadn’t gotten into the car with him when they left the restaurant.
Jasmine had reached her limit with Bill and stomped away in a huff. Now she was rethinking her decision to walk home rather than call someone to come and get her. She just couldn’t suffer through any more of Bill’s obnoxious conversation. If she ever saw him again, it would be far too soon.
She was seriously kicking herself for accidentally leaving her cell phone at home. There were six blocks left to her apartment and her feet were already so blistered that she doubted her shoes would come off without prying her feet out with a butter knife. Her frozen toes would probably be permanently adhered to the pointy toes of shoes that were great for sitting, but not really meant for walking.
The rustling became louder and seemed to be following her. Was that a growl? She looked over her shoulder toward the line of hedges and saw glowing eyes that quickly were gaining on her. She broke into a run as best she could in her heels and made it half a block before she twisted her ankle and crashed to the frozen sidewalk in a frightened heap.
The growls were getting louder and the glowing eyes were almost to her. Just as she was certain she was about to die, she heard a car come to a stop on the road beside her. The driver made a loud noise, and when Jasmine looked back toward the bushes the eyes were gone.
“Didn’t anyone ever tell you that it isn’t safe to go out by yourself late at night?” the clean cut middle aged driver asked.
Jasmine looked at the driver as he spoke and felt an odd sense of familiarity with him. She was certain she must know him from somewhere. She was about to ask if they had met when he stepped from the car and offered her his hand to assist her to her feet. She whimpered as she regained her feet and nearly stumbled into her rescuer.
“Thank you,” Jasmine said still feeling that strange sense of connection. “Do I know you?” she asked.
“I believe we met once long ago,” the man replied. “You can call me Ed, and you are Jaz.”
Taken aback by the use of her childhood nickname Jasmine smiled weakly. “No one has called me that in a very long time. I go by Jasmine now.”
“Yes. Well Jasmine, let me give you a ride home. I can’t stand the thought of you hobbling the rest of the way when you can barely stand.”
Jasmine had never in her entire life accepted a ride from a stranger. However, Ed wasn’t really a stranger. They had met long ago. She knew in her heart that was true. He seemed so nice, and she had the strangest urge to hug him. Nodding her acceptance she let Ed help her to the passenger side of the car.
She was about to climb inside the warm car when she noticed it was identical to the car her grandmother had when Jasmine was a little girl. While she had always loved the car, she hadn’t seen it since she was a small child.
“It’s rare to see a 1970 Grand Prix in gold these days,” she whispered. “My grandmother had one just like this when I was a little girl. She said it always made her sad to drive it because it was my grandpa’s pride and joy. He passed away when I was a baby.”
Jasmine couldn’t believe she had just blurted out something so personal to a virtual stranger. She had never been this chatty before. It must be all the stress of the evening that had her spilling her childhood history.
“I’m sure she missed him very much,” Ed said sadly.
Ed put the car in gear as soon as Jasmine was settled on the tan vinyl seat. She was oddly soothed by the vibration of the big motor. New cars just didn’t have the same feel and sound as the classics. The fuzzy dice swayed beneath the rear view mirror with the motion of the car. She felt safe and happy for some odd reason that she couldn’t quite explain. They arrived at her apartment building far too soon, and she stifled a sigh of disappointment.
“Thank you for the ride, Ed,” Jasmine said. “I really appreciate it.”
“My pleasure. And Jasmine? Don’t walk around by yourself at night. You had a really big and dangerous looking dog stalking you tonight. He could have ripped you apart. I think he smelled your leftovers.”
She had forgotten all about her leftover chicken in the take-home container from her dinner date. She had stuffed it down into her over-sized handbag and promptly forgotten all about it.
“How did you know about my chicken? Come to think of it, how did you know where I live?” Jasmine asked nervously.
Ed smiled a serene smile and said, “Jaz, I know many things about you. Think of me as part of the family. Now I really must be going. Can you make it inside all right?”
“Yes, I think so,” Jasmine replied feeling an odd sense of love fill her heart.
She went inside her little apartment and pried her shoes off with a butter knife as she had planned. She was soaking her aching feet in a bucket of cool water when she felt the uncanny urge to call her grandma. Glancing at her watch, she decided midnight was way too late to be calling. She promised herself that she would go visit her grandma the next morning. That decided, she soaked her feet for a while and tottered off to prepare for bed. She was so tired that she was only mildly annoyed to discover that she had lost one of her favorite earrings. The large silver hoops with dangling hearts had been a gift from her mother for her 21st birthday. After the night she had, she was certain to never see it again.
Her grandma was excited to see Jasmine the next morning. They drank tea and chatted about mundane things for a few minutes before her grandma asked about her date the night before. Jasmine told her about the horrible date with Bill, the frigid walk most of the way home, her lost earring, and her odd rescue from a hungry dog and a twisted ankle.
“The man seemed really familiar. He said we had met a long time ago. You should have seen his car, Grandma. It was just like the Grand Prix you used to have. It was even the same color. Now that I think about it, it even had the same kind of fuzzy dice on the mirror.”
“It’s funny you say that about the car. I still have it. It’s out in the barn under a tarp. I actually dreamed that I heard it start up last night. It was an odd dream. That car hasn’t run in at least 20 years,” her grandma said.
“Do you mind if I go look at it, Grandma? I would really like to see it again,” Jasmine asked.
“Let’s both go look at it. I haven’t seen it in years,” her grandma said as she grabbed a coat from her entry way closet.
The temperature was chilly, but not unpleasant as they slowly made their way out to the barn. It took both of them to open the door, as no one had used it in several years and it was quite stuck. After a great deal of effort, the door finally opened to reveal the dusty interior of the old barn where Jasmine’s grandpa had once cared for his farm animals and stored his hay.
They made their way inside and over to the far corner where the Grand Prix sat beneath a tarp and at least two inches of dust. Jasmine’s grandma slowly slid the tarp off the car, and her eyes filled with tears as she beheld her late husband’s prized possession.
Jasmine decided to give her grandma a little privacy to compose herself and opened the passenger door. She caught her breath at what she saw. There on the passenger seat was a large silver hoop earring with dangling silver hearts – the one she had lost the night before. Thank you for reading Ozarks Maven! If you’ve enjoyed my little seeds of wisdom and joy, please subscribe to Ozarks Maven, Like Ozarks Maven on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter @OzarksMaven.
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