As Veronica was leaving for work one morning, she saw a college kid moving into her complex, unloading boxes from an old sedan with cracked green paint and a dented fender. She stopped mid-step, nearly dropping her keys. Turning, she walked straight up to the young guy and said: “You have my car.”
“I’m sorry?” he said.
“That used to be my car. In high school. Jesus. What are the odds?”
“Huh. Really? That’s cool.” He smiled.
“Do you – This is weird. Do you mind if I sit in it? Just for a second.”
“I guess. I mean, yeah. Sure.”
Veronica slipped off her heels and slid into the driver’s seat. A cocoon of memory settled around her. She could feel the exhilaration of youth beating back the anxieties of adulthood, and she wrapped her hands around the warped steering wheel.
“I used to just get in this car and just drive. I’d take Nikki Colletta, Amy Herschl, and Amy Donner, and we’d just drive. For hours. Just to do it. People don’t do that much anymore. Sometimes I’d just go out by myself, to clear my head. Turn the stereo all the way up. Oh, you got rid of the tape player!” She tapped her nail on the radio, silver and incongruous amidst the worn console.
“It got stolen, actually,” he said, almost apologizing.
“That’s too bad. You kids don’t know what you’re missing with tapes. There’s something very physical about the way they sound. And it changes over time. Ages with you.” She turned to touch the backseat’s fabric, faded toward a central divot. “Do the back windows still not roll down?”
“Never could get that fixed,” he replied.
“Always made things a little too obvious, when they’d fog up. Nearly got in trouble a few times. God, Bobby Carbodero first went…” Veronica trailed off, glancing up at the car’s current owner. “But some memories are sacred.”
She twisted, pulling her shoes back on, and stood up. “Thanks. Take care of her,” Veronica said, and began walking away.
“You could take a ride in it sometime. If you wanted,” he called after her.
“No, thanks, kid. Make some memories of your own.”