Once upon a time there lived a girl. She loved tacos and cannibal jokes and cleaning her apartment, but what this girl loved more than almost anything was being alone. However, as an 8th grade teacher, she found that most of her time was spent surrounded by children who pestered her with questions like, “Where does the word glue come from?” “Can I see/wear/eat/burn your Abraham Lincoln hat?,” and “Why aren’t you married yet?” As much as the girl treasured her job and her students, she longed for the summer days when she could pass the hours sitting alone in her room, reading books about Soviet propaganda, and enjoying the sweet sounds of silence.
In order to celebrate/mourn the end of the school year, the girl planned a trip to her parents’ house on the last day of school. She knew her parents would be out of town (her dad likely motorcycling around Siberia and her mother Clara Barton-ing her invalid oldest daughter) and their house would be empty. She looked forward to a solitary weekend of running, hiking, sleeping, watching entire seasons of Call the Midwife, and eating food she didn’t have to pay for.
On the last day of school, everything was prepared for her trip: a duffel bag of dirty laundry was packed; her fish, Harriet Beecher Stowe, was at the babysitter’s; an 8 hour supply of chocolate covered mangos and Smarties waited in the car with a stack of CDs filled with pop music hits from the 80s and 90s.
The first several hours of the trip passed by smoothly and uneventfully. Besides some minimal snow and light fog in the mountains, she enjoyed clear roads, clear skies, and the perfect amount of terrible Will Smith raps.
By 10:30 that night, the girl was half an hour from home and ready to go to bed when she noticed that fog had once again begun to set in. As she looked carefully out her window, though, she realized the fog surrounded only her car. And that it was coming from under the hood. And it smelled like burning. The very worst kind of fog.
She pulled off the road and into a parking lot to inspect her car, using her vast automotive knowledge acquired from Pixar’s Cars 2 and half an episode of Pimp My Ride she saw in 10th grade. She quickly found the problem: there was steam coming from the car and it smelled like a broiled latex glove.
She called her dad in Calgary. Or Duluth. Or Azerbaijan (she really didn’t know). No response. She called her mom in Ohio. No response. She called her brother in New Mexico. No response. She called her sister in Utah. Response, telling her to call dad.
She had just decided to go to sleep in the car and figure out everything in the morning when her dad called her back. Three failed FaceTime calls, a broken flashlight, half a gallon of windshield fluid, and most of her phone battery later, he diagnosed the problem as something with the radiator (she couldn’t remember what, though. It’s probably something she would have known if only she had finished that episode of Pimp My Ride). Her dad assured her it was an easy fix that he could do for her when he returned home in two days. He suggested she find a ride home and worry about the car when he got back.
So, she texted or called every living soul she knew in Colorado. Which, despite 18 years of living there, totaled about 7. No response from any of them. Once again, the girl settled in for a nap in the car when her Fairy Godmother (in the form of her best friend from high school) responded. The friend was a nurse working the nightshift and couldn’t come help, but she sent her boyfriend in her place.
The boyfriend came to the girl’s rescue and drove her home. When she arrived at her house (more than three hours after originally having pulled over) she was surprised to see her brother’s car parked in the driveway. You see, the brother had also decided to come to Colorado for the weekend while his wife and baby were out of town. However, he had not told his sister (even though he knew she was traveling to Colorado that weekend, too) and had slept through her phone calls.
The next morning, the girl surprised her brother, who had assumed she had not come home because her car was absent. They rescued her car from the jewelry store parking lot where she had left it, and spent the afternoon eating their weight in sushi.