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By Niried

Johanna, set there, staring through the windshield, but what she saw wasn’t real; she just stared into the fantasy, the vision of her escape, imagining what she wanted to do. Just drive, just fucking start the engine and floor it! Scream the old Mustang across the parking lot, over the safety curb and shriek up into the streets speeding headlong into the Berkeley hills and keep on driving and just, just, get away.

But she couldn’t just get away. She couldn’t escape. She was trapped in her own life and had no escape. And she knew it. The helplessness of it all weighed against her and paralyzed her from living the fantasy of her own escape. All she was left with was the heavy misery surrounding her, bleeding inside of her and leaving her feeling numb and alone; utterly alone and unable to move, unable to even start the engine.

Helpless she continued to stare…first out through the windshield at the dull spectacle of the BART parking lot; quiet and empty in the late afternoon, except for the one or two people who always seemed to be coming or going in-between the 15 minute pour of monotonous strangers who came flooding out of the station and into waiting cars. Her eyes leered away from the monotony down to the slow struggle of her hands still clutching the steering wheel. So tightly! There was a bitter throb across the tops of her knotted fists where the white of her knuckles stood blistered up under her tension; even so, her hands tightened on the throat of the wheel. Holding onto it fiercely, she refused to just give up. She refused! She had nothing left to loose anyways. All she owned was with her in the mustang.
One way or another, she was going to start over.
                                            *
 Nadia crossed the parking lot quickly with the evening February spring air gusting in cold through every unsuspected gap between her and her jacket. God she hated the cold! She just kept thinking that over and over again. It always amazed her how cold it got in the bay area; she had moved here seven years ago and every year like clock work came the surprise of just how painfully cold it could really be, and she ached for summer. Summer always made her forget just how cold she was until like today as she made her way through the dreary BART parking lot with the cold evening wind stealing up under her coat, she was reminded of just how freezing cold it really could be!

Huddling into her jacket, she eyed the parking lot seeing the usual grey miasma of parked cars indifferently shuffled all around her, nothing worthy of attention, except for that one.The blister of an old orange car sat exposed, demanding attention. She had seen it before and it always caught her eye. How could it not? It just struck her as odd; an old beat-up Mustang parked nearly pornographically in its’ raw unabashed glory right along side the new shiny little city car share hybrids that were always so modestly, almost apologetically tucked together; neatly conforming perfectly in parking spots with inches to spare for the lot but inches less for the people crammed inside those little moral bundles of anonymity and heterogeneity.
No, the orange Mustang was different, vulgar and unapologetic.
Looking raw, vintage, gas guzzling and kind of, nasty, she half admired it. And would no doubt more admire it, if it weren’t well, such a shitty old car really.

Well, it was kind of a shitty car she thought, but in a cool kind of way, looking overly ripe with a distinct physical deterioration, scars of rust stretched along the sides and especially around the back wheels, hovering noticeably over the very ugly blackened hubcaps it bore. Nadia wondered just what did someone do to make their hubcaps black like that?
The old Mustang was an ironic orange reminder from yesteryear.
But still she kind of liked it, looking shitty and all. More authentically “dilapidated” really. It was genuine, not like trashy faux jeans and other ersatz creations hyped by designers to look old but were really the new, new garbage; this was the real shit. Busting with an ardent nostalgia that commanded real respect.

And for a moment she thought about who drove it. She had never seen who the driver really was; but it was easy to imagine some white trash guy who wore old fucking cowboy boots and chain-smoked dope. But then again, she imagined what it might be like to be the driver of the mustang; haul’n ass down a hot & naked stretch of dirt blown Arizona highway. No where to go, but sure as shit on the way to somewhere; and no doubt away from somewhere too. Maybe, it wasn’t really the Mustang after all but just the romance of a Mustang. And for a moment, she wished she had the courage to be that individual, to drive that Mustang.
And halfway to somewhere, she fumbled in her bag for a pen and notepad began to write on the pad.

To the owner of this mustang
I would like…

But before another word could be written,a voice interrupted her.
“Hey, hey!”

Nadia looked up from her unfinished note; surprised to see a woman, dark haired and beautiful, only a little older then herself, revealed from the rolled down window of the mustang. “Why you writing my down my car?”

For a moment, Nadia hesitated, this woman was not the cowboy she had imagined; and with the reality of the mustang driver revealed, Nadia took a minute to reply.

“Oh, what?Oh, sorry I wasn’t; I mean, is this your car?” Nadia asked more then a little dazed.

“Hey, I been parked here the whole time.If your car got knicked it wasn’t me.” The woman began rolling up the window.

“What? Oh, no, no, no.I didn’t mean it like that.” Nadia quickly rushed her words, “ I, uh, I’m sorry. I was just… “

And she looked back down to her hastily written, unfinished note. As if the words she had been writing would give her the words she needed now, but she hadn’t even finished writing them. She stammered. “Um, I just, I like your car.”

The woman inside the mustang just stared at her more then just a little incredulous.

“Um,” Nadia continued. “Is it, is it for sale?”

“What?”The woman asked confused.

“I mean,” Nadia began, “I want to buy it from you.I’ll, I’ll pay cash.I mean, I’d have to get the cash, I don’t have the cash on me but..”

“Are you serious?”The woman inside the mustang asked and seemed to look at Nadia a little less incredulous.

“Yea, Yea I am.” Nadia claimed, surprised by her own answer and yet also feeling more confident, that in fact, that was her answer. “I definitely am serious. I was just about to write you a note… So, how much do you want for her?”And already she was wielding her notepad as if she could now write a check.

The woman just stared at Nadia and then said,“Sorry, not for sale.”

“Oh, but I thought…you said” Nadia stammered.

Already the woman was tired of the conversation and began rolling the window back up.

“Wait!Um, how about a ride?” Nadia suddenly asked.”Could you give me a ride?”

The woman paused from rolling the window up but her expression was one like, she hadn’t heard Nadia or just didn’t believe her.

“Could, you give me a lift?” Nadia asked again. “I, I could use a ride a home?”

The woman in the mustang just stared hard at Nadia, clearly wheels turning in her apprehensive gaze and just about to start the mustang’s engine when Nadia interrupted.

“I don’t live far from here, but a ride would be great.” And sniffing loudly as if the cold night air were getting to her. And stuffing her note pad into her bag hastily and blowing on her hands; “And it’s freezing out here, and um, I, I can pay for gas.” It seemed both logical and completely insane to ask for a ride so suddenly.

The woman seemed to be considering the very same thoughts but then;

“Alright, fine.Yea, get in.”

“Really? Thank you! Let’s do this.” Nadia hurried towards the passenger side taking a hold of the door handle.The metal felt good to her touch and when she pulled it open feeling the heavy door creak a welcome to her, she introduced herself, “ Oh, by the way, I’m Nadia.”

The woman, in the driver’s seat…at last greeted her with an easy smile and said, “I’m Johanna.” And then with her eyes on Nadia, she started the mustangs engine and asked, “So, where do we go from here?”

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