He waited in staging, number 24 whitewashed on the back window. A ’65 Plymouth. Powder blue, white top. He’d wrenched and torqued and greased every inch under the hood. He was ready. He figured he’d at least get 85 out of her. Maybe 90 if he timed his shifting just right. The Tree held at yellow, then flashed green. He popped the clutch, started down the straightaway, then doubled it into gear. Too much, too soon. “Damn!” and it was over before he could figure out what had gone wrong.
The flagman dropped the red and he pulled off the track until his next run.
Weaving through the crowd, he looked for her. She was still in the stands, he hoped. She hated the race track. Hated spending every Saturday night under the lights, under a cloud of gas fumes. Hated the sound of tires peeling off at the start, the heat of the blacktop, the dust hanging heavy.
He found her, finally. Sitting at the top of the stands as far away, it seemed, as she could possibly get. Her hair fell over her face and when he called her name she quickly slid a paperback under her leg and looked up.
“Oh! All ready?” she asked.
“One more–I haven’t qualified.” He knew she wasn’t counting. Probably hadn’t even watched him, but she smiled.
And he carried it with him, warm and radiant, as he found his way back to the Plymouth. Pulling the car around to the start again, he waited.
[The flash fiction “The Drags”, 2016 draft, appeared first on This Is My Symphony.]