Eb stared at a battered old car in the small second hands dealer on her way around the town. Frank had dropped her at a local cafe, ordered food, barely managed to scoff food in his gob before saying adios to Eb and vanishing like the great Houdini from a contraption. Mind you, she had no idea about a car, or even if she knew how to drive one.
‘You can take her for a spin,’ the grinning mid 60s salesman smiled at her, showing perfectly yellow teeth. ‘I used to have one just like this meself when I was a young man. This one’s from the early 80s, but her engine’s still purrs like a kitten.’
Eb smiled barely. ‘No, it’s fine, thank you.’
‘You need a car around here young lady. The only public transport is either your own legs or a bus every one hour.’
‘How much?’ Eb asked, wondering how quickly she’d run out of the money Hillary left her with.
‘For you,’ he looked cheesy at her, ‘5 grand.’
5 grand? She had about a 100 in the account, and with whatever it was going to cost to renovate the farm house, she could afford a few thousand on a car. ‘I can take it for a test drive?’
Eb sat behind the large shiny leather steering wheel and gripped it with both hands. ‘Now, put the car in gear and we can go around the block.’ Eb stared at the man sitting in the passenger seat. ‘I don’t think I can,’ she replied.
The man’s eyebrows rose high. ‘You don’t know how to drive?’ Eb shook her head. ‘Right,’ he paused. ‘Well, that can be sorted. My son has a friend who is a driving instructor. You can take lessons.’ He opened his door and slide out. ‘So how about we write up those paperwork, and I can have someone drop you and your car home?’ He started walking to the office building before Eb even had a chance to get out.
Eb watched the dealer’s delivery guys jump on their ute and peel out of the driveway, swirling dust behind them. Her brand new car with its old beetle look, it’s yellowish paint peeling off at places and revealing rust stood on the newly revealed gravel courtyard. Against the run down house, the car looked right at home. She shook the key in her hand and clutched the old sliver door handles and yanked the driver’s side door open and slid in.
For a long moment, she sat there, one hand on the steering and the other on the key hanging from the ignition. How hard could driving be? After all, her doctor had said that it was only a matter of trying something ‘new’ and most likely muscle memory might take over if she’d done it before. Eb was sure that at 30 something, she must have previously learned how to drive.
‘Just trust yourself,’ she psyched herself into pressing the accelerator and before she knew it, the car ploughed straight into the steps, screeching and screaming to a halt.
‘Great! Just great!’ She stared at the hunk of wood that was once the corner of the stairs decorating the bonnet. ‘I hate this!’ She screamed! Her scream drowned by the vast land and no one to hear her.
‘I hate this,’ Eb simpered, closed in her car that felt foreign, in a place that felt foreign, and a mind that made her feel completely useless.
As the sun glared down on the old tin with wheels, Eb cried, an ugly scared cry, alone in her lonely broken world.