Metal chewing metal. Crunching plastic. The smell of gasoline so sweet you’d think our cars ran on Kool-Aid. In a way, they do. We’re all chasing that first sip of life. Today’s Saturday, Saturday, Saaaatturrrdaaayy. Strapped into my Chevy Impala, I hold the final Saturday in my mouth like I’m gargling Listerine.
The last vehicle idling wins.
I love smashing stuff. As a kid, I’d throw my toys against the walls and stomp on them. I’d hide the pieces under my bed so as not to get in trouble, only retrieving them at night to admire their jagged edges. My dad would always find them and glue them back together, but they never looked the same. They’d be whole but still possessed all their sharp angles. I was one of those toys.
I spin the Impala’s steering wheel left, avoiding an incoming Crown Victoria. Mud splatters on my windshield. The crowd shouts, rides the roller coaster. I flick on the windshield wipers. The mud smears across the laminated glass in the shape of…Dad, but it can’t be him.
Dad used to tell me a story about a man who lassoed the sun. At the end of every day, he and his wife would watch the sun set. Then his wife got sick. She died. The day after the funeral, the man knotted a lasso and wrangled the sun.
He stored the sun in his bedroom closet. Before falling asleep, he’d tell the sun about his day, about what he’d done and seen. Well, the rest of the world got tired of living in darkness, so they broke down the man’s door and stole the sun back. As they returned the sun to the sky, the man pleaded with them.
“Please,” he said on his knees. “The light is all I have left.”
The window crank stabs into my side. The Crown Victoria pushes me over until I’m a flailing turtle on his shell. Cheers. The crowd loves my demise. I can’t blame them. If I were sitting in the bleachers, I’d probably be cheering, too.
Pressing the gas pedal, I taste blood. I turn the steering wheel back and forth but go nowhere. My tires struggle to find traction on air. How to get upright? I open the glove box. Tools and papers tumble out. But there’s something bright and warm stuck in the back. I gaze into the glove box, and behind the owner’s manual I see the sun.
But it’s not the sun. It’s my life up to this point. Dad tucks me in. He kisses my forehead and tells me the story about the man who’d lassoed the sun. I smash stuff. He glues it back together. I don’t want things to change. Does anyone? I try saying Saturday again, but my lips flutter like a sputtering lawnmower.
They’re coming for it, for me.
I miss him so much.
“Please,” I say, hanging upside down. “The light is all I have left.”