Car Trouble

Contributor: Hailey Hartford

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“It’s just a car,” I kept telling myself, like a mantra. Over and over and over. “It’s just a car.”
But it was staring. At me. The headlights looked so incriminating, and I felt dirty. I wiped my back and looked at my palm. No dirt. Just a feeling.
After a day or so of watching the car parked next to my house, I decided to look at more than just the bow. The back right bumper had caved in quite a bit, and looked rather rusty. Why didn’t the whole car rust over?
I sat back down next to the front again and resumed the staring competition. It got more and more intense, and I had to look away a few times. It won, and I continued to feel guilty. Where was the guilt coming from?
It was starting to get dark, but the car was parked directly beneath the street lamp. It looked angrier with me, even though I couldn’t see the headlights anymore. It was all shadows and shining chrome.
A shiver ran through me, even before the wind started to pick up. When it did, I didn’t leave. I just kept repeating, “it’s just a car. It’s just a car.”
The leaves were getting picked up in the late-night breeze, and I caught glimpses in them in the street lamp light. The concrete on the sidewalk shone when they left, almost as bright as the chrome. It shone and shone, right into my eyes. And it hurt, but I looked anyways.
There was rust. Just like on the bumper. Was it rust?
I scooted closer and squinted. It wasn’t as orange as it was dark red. Blood, maybe?
I began to panic. Why was a car dripping blood parked next to my house? Is a murderer loose on our street? I scooted back to the front, and then a few more scoots further up my driveway.
“Tom, sweetie. Are you coming in? You need to go to bed,” my mother’s voice brought me to my feet. She was standing in the doorway, arms crossed. She looked worried. “We’re all worried about her, Tommy. But staying out here all night isn’t going to get her home any sooner. The police looked for her all day today, and said we can join them tomorrow.”
Who were we all worried about? Why were the police looking for her? I tried to make my confusion look somewhat like concern. My mother walked out to me, put her robe about my shoulders, and led my inside. She looked so scared.
“I’m sure she’s alright,” I finally choked out when we made it up the stairs.
“I’m sure she is,” she smiled. “Your sister’s a strong girl. She’s young, but there’s a fire in her. Anyone that crosses her is sure to get a beating.” Her own jokes seemed to reassure her of her daughter’s, my sister’s, safety. “I’m glad you were the last face she got to see before-“ she cut herself off. She swallowed hard and smiled again. “She’s fine.”
I said goodnight, and she did the same. After closing my door, I went to the window. The car was in view.
“It’s only a car.”
Where’d Izzy go? That couldn’t be her blood, could it?
“It’s only a car.”

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