Bess

by March 24, 2023 0 comments

She was wearing a white button-down shirt
with snap buttons, waiting for me
to unsnap them. But I was shy and she was
in the driver’s seat. So she started unsnapping them
herself. She was 18 and had her own car already,
an old-fashioned Volvo named Bess. She had named it Bess
because Bess was an old-fashioned name. I was barely 16
and didn’t have my permit yet, but I had permission
as far as the snaps. We were parked in Bess with the lights off
idling in a green place somewhere in the twilight
of my childhood. Its real name was the Volvo Amazon,
derived from the female warriors of Greek mythology. But I don’t think
I knew that yet. And I don’t think I knew
she wasn’t wearing a bra. She’d already unsnapped
2 buttons, to show me how it was done and to show me
the little hollow between her breasts called cleavage,
an old-fashioned word that somehow also applied
to my busty grandmother living in Florida. I gingerly
unsnapped the third button. Someone inhaled audibly. Maybe me.
It felt like unwrapping a present that I’d only seen advertised
in magazines. Suddenly she unsnapped all of the buttons,
impatiently ripping the wrapping paper right off.
“Thank you,” I whispered gratefully, then just sat there
staring stupidly. Bess made a ticking sound
that filled the silence. It could have been
the spark plugs–you’re supposed to replace them
every 100,000 miles or so. Or it could have been
the oil was low, or the valves were maladjusted,
or the drive pulleys were worn out. What did I know about
what was going on inside of Bess, in that moment,
16 years old, stupidly staring, something like time, ticking.

editors note:

A beautiful bumble, a humble fumble. – mh clay

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