The paint was long gone from the hulking machines that lay abandoned in the grass, sandblasted by countless dust storms and cooked by the relentless high desert sun. The bare steel, that had been shaped and fastened by the calloused hands of ancient artisans, long since passed, now gleamed in the bright light of day. Even the oxides were allowed only a meager foothold, as Mother Nature struggled to claim back that which was hers.
Things lingered and lasted in this high country; stuck around longer than they were ever meant to. Denise knew this. It was why she was here. It was why she slept during the day and sat at the worn wooden table staring out at the old cars by night. She would take her place before twilight and watch until the sun rose over the eastern range. Sometimes, in the pale moonlight, she would see Lawrence wandering amongst his automobiles, tinkering.
Lawrence had been, and still was, the only lover she had ever taken, and on the nights he would visit; the cars would sit proud, paint gleaming, tires filled with air, and engines idling with an even tempered rumble that echoed off the hillsides. Denise could see all this from the window of the house.
Lawrence would come only three or four nights per year, and on the nights he came he would tend to his cars until the darkest hour, just before dawn. Then he would turn and motionlessly stare at the house until sunrise. Denise believed he was watching her, as she sat just inside the window, watching him. She felt like a young girl again on those nights; pretty, desired. With the sunrise the cars would, one by one, settle back into the dirt without so much as a puff of dust or a wisp of smoke to mark their activity. Lawrence too, would disappear with the first light and Denise would have only her memory of him to console her and keep her alive until the next time he came.
On that clear crisp autumn morning, as the sunlight began streaming through the window Denise studied the calendar that hung on the wall. It was where she noted Lawrence’s visits with a red ink circle around the dates of the nights he came. It was the first week of October already and Lawrence had only been here once this year. Her birthday was coming soon. Perhaps he was waiting for her birthday. Perhaps he was planning to take her out so that she could feel young and pretty again. Perhaps she could once again see him smile and feel the caress of his lips against hers. She longed to have him take her in his arms again, lifting her off her feet and swinging her around, and around in circles.
Maybe this was the year. Maybe this was the year they could be together again.
See me smiling’? Thanks go to everyone who participated and especially to the Ghouls for organizing this wonderful venue and allowing us to play! I encourage you all to talk up this wonderful challenge to all your friends. A great place to play – fer shure!