Love at 27A

by Sean Pravica

The car drove itself to the store to pick up some groceries. Theo was tired in bed and even more depressed. Mari was putting on her stockings slowly, the sun dipped under her knee when she lifted it high to her chest. He watched her dress and fix pins in her hair, and give a look neutral as milk into the mirror.

The car pulled in at a crooked angle into its parking space.  It wondered about Theo.  A pleasant looking man in a Hawaiian print shirt walked by with a healthy stride. He walked on the balls of his feet, giving him a bounce that made him look younger than he was.  The car liked him immediately, and was reminded of someone it knew long ago.  It grew wistful for a moment but stopped itself quickly and honked.

The man turned around and looked startled.  The car honked again, to which the man crept closer and examined the empty vehicle. It was just a standard white Accord. He had never seen a car act so strangely.

The car rolled down its passenger side window.  The man revealed a dumbfounded smile, that was sweet and innocent like a child's. The car got a warm vibe from the man, and forgot about Theo for a moment.  The man peered into the uncluttered interior.  Six dollars and a note on the passenger side seat sat reading:

milk  -  eggs

Now the man was really smiling.  His head swiveled around as he surveyed the parking lot.  He cupped his mouth and shouted "hello!"  People looked at him and he pointed back, expecting someone with a camera to come out and tell him he had been pranked.  But no one came.  The car honked again, twice in quick succession.  But these honks were involuntary.  They were the honks of laughter.

The laughter got the man's attention and he stopped spinning around, stopped looking for someone to tell him he was going to be on TV, or even the Internet, and reached in to take the money.  He looked a little disappointed but willing, and walked with smaller, almost invisible bounces to the store.

When he returned he placed the requested groceries through the window and tried to give the car its change.  It shook its windshield wipers to the left to say no.  The man smiled, said, "Cheers, little car," and went on his way with his own groceries.  It was his niece's birthday and soon she would be eating silver dollar pancakes with strawberry syrup.

When the car returned home Mari was gone.  Theo was standing by his parking space smoking a cigarette, wearing nothing but boxers and heartache.  He walked over and got his milk and eggs, and told the car, "What do I expect anyway? She never said she wanted anything from me.  It's always been this way.  I just open my heart too big."

The car wished it had some type of function that could express to Theo how pathetic he sounded. It yearned for a red light to blink in morse code that there were plenty of fish in the sea.  But all it could do was watch as Theo stumbled away with his groceries, not even thanking the car for making the trip.

In the rear view mirror it saw Mari drive out suddenly and leave the complex.  She must have seen the whole thing.  She would probably never come back again.  It would be better that way. 

The car rolled up its window and decided to get some rest.  It was going to need it.

BIO: Sean Pravica is a journalist living in southern California. His short story, “To Have the Ass,” appeared in the Red Fez and was nominated for the 2011 storySouth Million Writer’s Award. He continues to slowly revise the third novel he's written, but the first worth several, full revisions. The other two were for learning endurance and now happily keep used notebooks company in a drawer.