By Claudia Anderson
I don’t know how many of us are here now. Our weight steadily increased until one day the machines lay silent. The parameters of our existence really do not bother us much anymore. Weight and length and color are nothing more than shadowed measurements of something once thought important.
We are tired, some of us more than others. Our collective consciousness is slowly seeping out of this world, thoughts of ever-after more a smile than a possibility. I think there are six of us here on this flatbed. We mouth colors of Regal Black and Arctic White and Matador Red, but no sound comes out. Perhaps that is what we were once called. It doesn’t really matter now. Our identities no longer lay within the tints of our shell. The cold September wind is whipping around us, rhythmically snapping some long forgotten trim against someone’s bumper. We lay together, six tall, waiting for our last road trip, trying to remember what we once were.
As we try to sort our individualities from of this pile of crushed and bent steel, wisps of once-upon-a-time mingle and become one long thought: “I carried the homecoming queen in the high school parade was the fastest car in Jefferson County remember children fighting in my backseat on their way to grandma’s my engine never really ran the way it was supposed to.” Our minds are slow now, almost non-existent. I don’t recall if it was me that celebrated the millennium at a park in New Jersey or the Nova two stacks above me. One of our back seats is full of motor oil; someone else’s is full of blood. It’s these sorts of sleepy memories the six of us share now as our bodies are crushed to one-eighth of our former glory. The white Toyota on top tries to boast of big V8’s and posi-traction, but the collective knows Toyotas never had those kinds of engines. Red Bel Air doesn’t remember what year he came off the assembly line, but is almost positive the first song played on his radio was “Love Me Tender.” The rest of us don’t know if that is true — most barely remember yesterday.
We try to recall a time when the roads were ours. When our owners rushed home to wash us, took us on drives through the countryside, sat in front of houses while lovers said goodbye. Someone says there was a time when pride of ownership was the foundation of his existence; the car on the top hasn’t been around long enough to know what that means. One of us has been abused since we were bought off the lot; someone else swears they were pampered until they were driven off the road in a thunderstorm.
Black Skylark doesn’t send many vibrations through us anymore. He lies at the bottom of this crushed steel heap, his days of glory long gone. He remembers little, as his body was mangled beyond recognition by a high-speed drunk driver one Saturday night. But it is just as well, he moans. Our purpose was never to last beyond our usefulness. AMC Concord right beneath me is ever the optimist. Thinks his owner will come and reclaim him from the shadows of the abyss before it is too late. If I had much emotion left I would tell him it’s already too late. There will be no reclamation for us. Nothing but transition.
The platform on which we lay is cold and hard. There are no wrinkles, no folds, no contours of steel as with us. We hear we are leaving soon — the one, last, great adventure. Words in the distance barely reach us. Scrap yard. Recycling plant. Shredder. Those words are alien to us. Stick shift. Transmission. Spoilers. Now these are words we understand. Words that ring true about what we once were. Who we are still.
Tired now, our collective efforts to share one last glimpse into our pasts are failing. Style and accessories mean little when you are crushed flat against another. Perhaps we were once fresh and new, but all that is left is this pathetic tower of crumpled steel and broken dreams
Claudia Anderson is a writer, poet, and humorist. Her genres include fantasy fiction, humor, and dark fantasy. She is a past board member and current member of the Wisconsin Writers Association, a proofreader, editor, and author of three unpublished books. Claudia is married with two children, one super grandson, one dog, and two cats. She blogs at Humoring the Goddess: Managing the Madness and Magic of Middle Age, tweets @humorthegoddess, and can be found on Facebook.