“Well, Billy’s done a lot of work on the engine – it’s only a few years old, really.”
I hoped he didn’t think so little of me as to believe I would give up that easily. “When did he buy it?”
“He bought it in 1984, I think.”
“Did he buy it new?”
“Well, no. I think it was new in the early sixties – or late fifties at the earliest,” he admitted sheepishly.
“Ch – Dad, I don’t really know anything about cars. I wouldn’t be able to fix it if anything went wrong, and I couldn’t afford a mechanic…”
“Really, Bella, the thing runs great. They don’t build them like that anymore.”
The thing, I thought to myself… it had possibilities – as a nickname, at the very least.
“How cheap is cheap?” After all, that was the part I couldn’t compromise on.
“Well, honey, I kind of already bought it for you. As a homecoming gift.”
Charlie peeked sideways at me with a hopeful expression.
“You didn’t need to do that, Dad. I was going to buy myself a car.”
“I don’t mind. I want you to be happy here.” He was looking ahead at the road when he said this. Charlie wasn’t comfortable with expressing his emotions out loud. I inherited that from him. So I was looking straight ahead as I responded.
“That’s really nice, Dad. Thanks. I really appreciate it.” No need to add that my being happy in Forks is an impossibility. He didn’t need to suffer along with me. And I never looked a free truck in the mouth – or engine.
“Well, now, you’re welcome,” he mumbled, embarrassed by my thanks.
We exchanged a few more comments on the weather, which was wet, and that was pretty much it for Conversation. We stared out the windows in silence.
It was beautiful, of course; I couldn’t deny that. Everything was green: the trees, their trunks covered with moss, their branches hanging with a canopy of it, the ground covered with ferns. Even the air filtered down greenly through the leaves.
It was too green – an alien planet.
Eventually we made it to Charlie’s. He still lived in the small, two-bedroom house that he’d bought with my mother in the early days of their marriage. Those were the only kind of days their marriage had – the early ones. There, parked on the street in front of the house that never changed, was my new – well, new to me – truck. It was a faded red color, with big, rounded fenders and a bulbous cab. To my intense surprise, I loved it. I didn’t know if it would run, but I could see myself in it.
Plus, it was one of those solid iron affairs that never gets damaged – the kind you see at the scene of an accident, paint unscratched, surrounded by the pieces of the foreign car it had destroyed.
“Wow, Dad, I love it! Thanks!” Now my horrific day tomorrow would be just that much less dreadful. I wouldn’t be faced with the choice of either walking two miles in the rain to school or accepting a ride in the Chief’s cruiser.
“I’m glad you like it,” Charlie said gruffly, embarrassed again.