The white Pilot approached head on, swung in front of her, and slid into the first spot.
She backed up. Was this the church lot where she’d parked, last year? Music had just begun wafting from the main stage, and every pedestrian was headed toward the sound. The scene was strange. Cues were missing.
She leaned onto the wheel and braked, waiting. A young woman with long, thick honey hair exited the Pilot, walking purposefully toward the sidewalk and crossing the street. Covered in short culottes, a high, wide pelvis and strong legs drove her torso forward like the back end of a camel.
The white Pilot bore a New York plate.
The young woman was alone, moving as if on a deadline, her comportment in stark contrast to the two and threesomes heading down the sidewalk anticipating an afternoon of live musical entertainment. And, in from New York state by herself, no less.
Removing her foot from the brake, she turned and parked a space away, only to think again and pull out around toward a closer vantage point for audio. Something wasn’t right. Spying a posted Restricted notice, she knew then that this was not the lot she’d chosen the year before; in fact – wrong church – she would need to head one full block further east.
Sure enough. Pulling into her now recognizable north/south alley between the college library and its neighbor, the cathedral, she stopped her car and shut off the engine. Windows open, cross breezes flowing, the music – soaring above the historic homes on 6th and wending between the overhanging trees – could now be clearly heard, right from her driver’s seat. Lowering the visors and adjusting her shades, she settled back to sit alone for the private concert which, this year, would be her consolation prize.
He’d been the single source of hopeful anticipation wrought by the whole, sorry pandemic, he with his keen curiosity and teeming desire for discourse. She’d been riding on his wavelength for weeks and then – with no warning – shut out, bereft, absorbing whiplash like a crash test dummy. Now, her only recourse to move through the stages of grief, she would plant herself within earshot of the very thing which had captured her in the first place: his music.
Familiar treble strains carried their opening tune. Looking off, her eyes half closed in reverie. Momentarily startled, she turned. Here came the white Pilot, yet again, pulling up through the alley and passing her on the driver’s side.
The young woman’s profile was now visible, softer and more youthful than she’d appeared from the rear. What had moved this woman to reposition her own vehicle, on such a fine afternoon? She watched through the mirror as the Pilot continued in search of a place to light. What might be directing its travels?
Her phone vibrated.
“On my way.”
She stared. This was her ex, an hour ahead of schedule. In the care of his dying mother, he needed to borrow her printer to prepare urgent care home intake forms.
Irony flooded the parking lot. This was a moment produced and directed by the Universe, Providence at the helm. Human will. The power, of choice. The fork, in the road.
Wearily, with the impetus of a grandmother whose alarm clock heralds breakfast for the child in her charge, she placed the key in the ignition and turned on the engine, its hum attempting consonance with the concert filling the air. Putting the car in gear, she headed down the drive, turning westward. The music swelled, almost plaintively after her retreat, calling, calling. She kept driving.
Theirs was a fraught intersection. Lasting, in her mind, nearly five years he was yet again in need of her efforts. And, with the regularity of familiar habit, she obliged. Documents forwarded, printed, rudiments accomplished, they headed to the beach to walk the dog. This time, he would dissolve into his own grief, anticipating an emotionally absent mother’s death, and she would embody empathy. To any onlooker, minus any familial resemblance he could be her brother.
The dog was older now, tiring earlier and, after a momentary stop at the clearing to test a flock of Canada geese they were headed home. She noted the time. The main stage had long since released itself to the festival’s next act.
Across on the bayside berm, a bright blue compact caught her eye, the newest car color to trigger her since his lone visit just three weeks before.
Parked directly behind it was a white Pilot.
Copyright 8/20/22 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. Please write your own songs. Thanks.