The car was old, twenty years at least and in good condition. The year didn’t matter to me though, it was going to be mine. After relying too much on public transportation, it will be nice to jump in my own car and go anywhere. The thought of it exhilarated me to the core.
The paint on the car was original. Burgundy in color, it gleamed back at me for the most part with some dullness in some spots. The chrome embellished in a stately trim. It was mine and I loved it.
The man I was buying it from had stood in his driveway staring at it with a tear in his eye; like he was losing his best friend. While I looked it over, he repeated to himself, “It was used for so much. So many memories.” I didn’t really pay attention to the rest of what he said. To me it was just mumbo jumbo; boring stories. All I cared about was making it mine.
Turning to him, a tear rolled over his cheek to his chin. I asked, “Why are you selling it if you’re having such a hard time letting it go?”
“The wife. The wife,” he said.
“But, your wife is dead.”
“It’s too hard. I can’t look at the memories anymore,” he said.
Maybe I should have asked him to explain, but in reality it wasn’t my business. Oh well, I stood back and took a picture with my phone and uploaded it to Facebook. That done, I wrote the man a check paying for the car and drove my prized possession home.
Since it was Friday and I had no more clients for the day, I took the rest of the day off, went home, packed a suitcase and headed to my boyfriend Will’s for the weekend. I know he’ll love my new car. Then it happened.
The June sun leaned toward the western sky. A light breeze sang in the air. I slid behind the wheel, ignited the engine, and cruised to Highway 22. Will lived in Sisters, which was in the mountains near the Three Sisters volcanoes. They were supposed to be extinct, but the south sister showed some activity as of late. Nothing too special though.
The road was sparse, only a car here and there passed. The mountains stood in front ready to greet me with their winding trail. They faded just then and open terrain was left in their place. Different looking mountains appeared in the far distance. I no longer sat behind the wheel. Instead, I was in the middle between the man I bought the car from and his wife. My breath caught and words failed me. All I heard was a scream, but it didn’t come from the man or his wife. I realized it had come from me. But, they didn’t seem to hear it. They were engaged in the countryside and just smiled at each other.
“Hey,” I said to the man. “What are you doing here? I thought your wife was dead. Where did you come from?” But, the man didn’t answer. He continued to go on as though I weren’t even there. I tried to shove his arm to get his attention, but my hand went through it. Now, he morphed into a younger version of himself, as did his wife. Again, the terrain changed. Voices from the backseat became audible. A slow turn of my head showed two male teenagers in the backseat talking about what they were going to do first when they got to the cabin. I had to be dreaming. Maybe I was actually at home asleep on my bed. I squeezed my eyes shut hoping that when I opened them all would be normal. But, no.
Deciding to play along, I smiled and said, “Hi.” They didn’t see or hear me. I turned back to the front. “What in God’s name is going on?” I asked to no one.
Again, everything changed. I’m still in the middle. A briefcase sat next to me and the man was driving. To work? We were downtown Salem. He rounded the corner and parked the car in front of an office building on Liberty Street. The man reached across to his briefcase and stepped out, shutting the door behind him. Taking the opportunity I went out as well. But, when I stepped out, I saw that I was on Highway 22 parked on the shoulder. The mountains were still ahead of me. How? Creasing my brow, I scratched my head. Looking back at the car I opened the door and slowly placed myself behind the wheel. The windows showed I was still parked downtown, but looking out the open door I saw Highway 22.
Then, it dawned on me. Why had I not thought of it before? All those boring stories the man told when I was looking over the car were all the good memories he had in this car. I thought back to the recent events in the car just a few minutes ago. They did match some of the stories he told me today. I actually experienced those memories. I smiled and chuckled. I guess I not only purchased a used car but used memories as well.