He was sitting behind the wheel of an old Citroen C3. The car, even though quite old, as it had almost 15 years, remained in perfect shape. Yes, upholstery of the car seats was threadbare, material was frayed in places, and the wheel was well-worn from the thick skin of his palms. But he loved his car. He did not feel ashamed because of corrosion attacking its fenders nor he cared about the fact that his car did not conform to modern emissions standards. He did not intend to drive this car to Western Europe. He loved solitude and night-time rallies across empty roads of Poland’s backcountry. His coworkers, family, and all of his friends tried to convince him to get rid of this boneshaker and buy a new set of wheels. Something more stylish. More modern.
It is true, he could afford a new car. Savage one. With all possible comforts. And for cash. But he did not want to. He did not need a new car. He would never fall out of love with his good old „lemon”. Nobody understood. They treated him as if he were a harmless freak indulging his whim. Nobody knew that this car meant more to him, it was not a mere pile of scrap metal in his mind. If it really was a soulless device, filled with oil and fuel, he would got rid of it long time ago and change it to something faster, more convenient and safer. But this car was alive. It had a soul. It spoke to him.
You will probably think that he was a psycho. Can a normal person think that some car is alive? Yes, drivers name their cars quite often, but its rather typical and people do not treat this seriously. But he ACTUALLY spoke with his own car. His neighbors often saw him sitting in his Citroen parked on the driveway. At different times of day. He would sit behind the wheel at weekends, from late evening to night, and during weekdays for one or two hours after driving back from work. What did he do at such times? People have different opinions on that. Some people saw him talking to himself. Others noticed that he used to put his head on the wheel and stroke it gently. But one thing was certain. The car was important to him
He spared no money. He would change oils every 5000 km, and in his case it meant every 2 months. He nursed his car as if he was looking after his beloved person. The car, even though it was showing signs of age, was serviced by mechanics from the most expensive car service in the region. Engine, although it should not function, kept working steadily with silent sputter. It was smoothly gaining impetus, dynamically speeding up and forcing the driver to the back of his seat.
Sometimes, no matter what the time of the day, he had to visit his car. He would open his door, sit in the seat and mechanically fasten his belts. He did not know where he will drive to, but he knew that the ride will be long. It was the car deciding for him. He would determine his day’s routine. And not only that! His life plan! And what was the longest journey he took? He lived in the south of Poland. On wintery Friday evening, he just got into his car and started to drive. After several hours, he understood that he is driving north. Finally, he ended up in the Mazury Province. He woke up when he was driving across snowy road in a forest. The road took him by the icebound lake attacked by minus temperatures. For all these years and dozens of similar voyages his car had never let him down. It was his faithful friend, avid lover and wife who perfectly knows tastes of her husband very well.
That evening things went exactly the same. Some strange force urged him to get up from the seat. He put his book aside and drunk his tea at one gulp. Skillfully, he stubbed out his half-smoked cigarette. For all these years of the relationship with his car, he had never smoked inside. Neither he nor anybody else. He went to the hallway, unhooked his warm polar from the coat-peg and took car keys and the documents. He looked at his mobile phone and hesitated. Should I take it or not? His work required him to be permanently available. But this time he decided to brake the rule and so he left his mobile phone at home. This was the way it had to be.
He went down to the garage through internal door. Silhouette of his car was glinting in the darkness. The interior was slightly illuminated by greenish glow from the radio. It was always turning off automatically. His car felt that its door will be opened any moment, and he will press his muscular body against the seats. He will turn left, reach for the belts and skillfully fasten them. This time it was exactly the same. He inserted the ignition key and started the car. The engine came alive instantly. He loved this sound. Soothing, creating the wave of positive vibrations. He shifted reverse gear and pressed the button on the remote control. The garage door started to lift up, so he slowly drove out from the garage onto the long driveway. The street was empty at this hour. He skillfully hit the road. He took a deep breath. It was one of these days, when he did not know where is he heading to and how long he will stay outside his home.
First gear, second, third and fourth. He drove smoothly across the city streets at the speed of 70 km per hour. He was driving towards one of the exit roads. He isolated his mind from all thoughts, allowing his car to take control over him. He loved this state. He felt united with his machine, like a rider galloping on his horse. Their relationship was based on the feeling of mutual trust. Mind and soul were blending with the machine which was becoming hotter and hotter with every kilometer.
They were crossing windy roads, ascending on one of the highest hills behind the city. Below the hill, the beautiful landscapes were unfolding. In summer, it was a perfect spot teenagers dating at night. Where excited boys were trying their very best to put their hands under their girlfriends’ skirts, and they were giggling flirtatiously and pretending to be ice queens. The idyllic period lasted from early spring to late autumn. Winter frosts were effectively discouraging couples in their cars, leaving the car park completely empty.
The car just hit him. He was standing directly in front of the cliff. The cliff from which people would often take night photos of the illuminated city. The cliff which witnessed many deflorations of young women, cruel heart brakes and secret cheats. Yes, the car park was an essence of the entire human life. It witnessed many things that people did not even want to whisper about, although everybody knew what was happening there.
He felt that this is the moment. Closing his eyes, he pressed into the seat, forcefully holding the wheel with both hands. He turned on the car lights, bright beam of light floodlit almost 100 meters long section of the car park which was dividing the car from the ridge of the cliff. He pressed the clutch, and shifted first gear. Then he eased his foot off the clutch and pressed the accelerator. The car jumped forward with impetus. It was speeding up as never before. At the stunning speed it was swallowing the last meters of the car park, and catapulted into the air at 100 km/h speed.
It flew for around 7 seconds. These were the longest seconds of his life. All most important memories of his childhood and adult life unfolded before his eyes. It would probably last even longer, but he felt sudden boom. Crashing impact pressed him into the seat and enveloped in the steel embrace of his car. The car, which within a second changed into a gigantic heap of scrap metal, hiding inside the body of his first and only owner.