“The cars we drive say a lot about us.” – Alexandra Paul
It was an idyllic summers day. I had just finished a long and hard job full of eighty-hour weeks and rainy days (as are the qualms of working in outdoor theatre). It was time to sort my life out before my next contract which was merely one week away.
The morning had been a constructive one. First thing I drove to Warwick to drop off my car for her MOT before continuing to the office to retrieve my remaining belongings and say my final goodbyes.
It was 9.30 am. The sun was shining, and I had already achieved so much! Nothing to do now but wait until the garage rang and informed me that Lisbeth (my green Nissan Micra) was ready to collect. Time to treat myself!
I headed for Jephson Gardens book in one hand, Magnum in the other and set up camp under the dappled shade of a beautiful beech and began to read.
I hadn’t felt this completely relaxed in months. Ice cream demolished and first chapter smashed I lay back, cushioned by the grass, completely at peace…
… then my phone rang.
“Ruth?” It was my mum. “I’ve got some bad news.”
I quickly fell from nirvana and back to earth with a start.
Whenever my Mum says “I’ve got some bad news” it was serious. This means someone I love is dead or dying.
I trod carefully. “OK?”
“It’s Lisbeth.” My heart plummeted right through the bottom of my stomach. “She’s not gonna make it through her MOT.”
* * *
Lisbeth was my first car. The car I learnt to drive in. She had been with me through thick and thin. Trips to and from college during the week and parties for 18th birthdays on the weekends. My uni companion, accompanying me to Edinburgh, playing the moving van for countless students ferrying possessions from flat to flat, a key member of Cobweb Theatre Company carrying costume, props and sets, the late-night taxi service for emergency cake runs and the best hotel when long, late-night drives were too much. Then essential to my stage management freelancing career, cruising from venue to venue, company to company, theatre to theatre, an essential asset and a firm friend. And now, she was gone!
* * *
I had a few more days with her before the MOT certificate expired. A few more drives. A few more mixtapes to blast out that killer stereo system. And then the mighty Lisbeth breathed her last.
But that wasn’t enough for me, I needed something to remember her by. A keepsake.
I left the house, screwdriver in hand, ready to remove her number plate. Something I could keep forever. I popped the caps off to reveal the screws and took a firm grasp on the bottom of the plate… and it fell off in my hand.
Hmm, on the other hand, it was probably time.
Illustration by Kirstie Notman – Illustrator & Artist