Suzanne Burke gave us a tricky writing prompt this week, but I think I came up with something interesting 🙂
You can check out the other entries and join in here- Fiction in a Flash Challenge
And They’re Off
We’d been driving for what felt like hours, when truthfully, the clock said it was barely noon. Still, I’d been waiting for this day forever, and now that it was here, I couldn’t wait to get there.
I glanced out the back window of the truck for the hundredth time, hardly believing the shiny red Mustang we were hauling was mine.
“You sure you’re up for it?” my dad asked, sending me a grin that lit up his face and added deep crinkles around his green eyes.
“Are you kidding?” I puffed out my chest, wishing it was as broad and strong as his. “I’m going to take that trophy home, Dad. Wait and see.”
We’d been working on the sports car for three years now. Dad bought it as a project- something to doodle with on the weekends. Before long, I was racing home from school and begging him to put some extra time into the old girl. No one believed me when I told them I owned a ’69 Mustang Mach I (well, me and Dad), but they would have to believe it after today. Journalists and TV crews would be on site to record the event and Dad had reluctantly agreed to let me drive. I was about to become the cool kid- for once.
The mile 97 marker flew by and Dad slowed and signaled to the right as a pitted asphalt road appeared between two sandy hills dotted with mesquite bushes.
“Are you sure this is the right way?” I asked, staring at the barren landscape.
“They’ve held the race here for twenty years,” he replied. “It’s right. You know, it’s not too late to back out. We could go home, light up the barbeque…”
“No, Dad. I want to do this. Please.” I hid my fisted hands in my jacket, not wanting him to think I was nervous, though my pulse raced.
“Okay, Son. Just remember what I told you-“
“I know. First is fine, but fifth will fly.” I grinned to let him see I was fine. It was going to be great. It was only a quarter mile, what could go wrong?
Lined up at the start line with screaming engines on either side of me and the stench of burning rubber filling my lungs, I felt the first real moment of panic. Maybe I’d made a mistake. The other drivers had years of experience over me- matter of fact it was all the journalists could harp on- stressing me and my dad out when we needed to be concentrating on that bright red and white fence blocking the road. We’d been warned not to go past the road closed sign, not that it should be a problem, the race ended far short of there.
A few seconds from now and it would be over.
The flag waved and we were off in a streak of glory, flying down the road with motors roaring, the sun shining, and the thrill coursing through my veins. My hand and foot coordination that I’d been practicing for so long, paid off. I zipped into second and started to gain on the lead car. Third gear, I made it even with his back tire. Fourth and I was climbing up on the passenger door. I glanced across and met a dark, resolute gaze and knew I had to move fast or he would be gone.
I gave her more gas and counted in my head as the revs climbed. Almost there. Almost… slamming my foot onto the clutch, I smoothly shifted to fifth and held on as the monster under the hood was unleashed.
The other car disappeared but I didn’t even care anymore, too caught up in the euphoric feeling of flying. We became one with the wind, the earth little more than a brown blur sliding past the side windows. I couldn’t believe we’d done it, Dad and I. We’d built a fire-breathing dragon and she had destroyed the competition.
I threw my head back and laughed, giddy with joy. No one was going to call me lamebrain or douchebag again. I’d shown them. Next week I planned to…
Bam. The car slammed through the fence, splintering the boards like toothpicks. The journalists froze, their mouths dropping open comically as the red Mustang took air and flipped end for end, over and over until it finally plowed into the gravel pile at the end of the road.
Dust rose and even from a distance it was easy to see no one could have survived. The boy’s dad let out an anguished cry, like that of a wounded animal, and started toward the car at an uneven gait that soon became a desperate marathon of hope. Emergency personal followed, some on foot, some in eerily silent cars, the exhilaration of the day gone, filled instead with horror and empathy for the father who’d lost his boy.
A month later, a write-up of the event and the death of one of its own was highlighted on the front page of the paper and the high school mourned along with the family. Kids talked about the quiet boy who loved to spend time on the weekends with his father working on cars, and never again did anyone call him a lamebrain.