Plastered on the bumper of the pristine white Audi, almost as long as the bumper itself, were the words, “Madam President.” She knew the car, she saw it in this garage every day, but today was one of those days she was brave enough to approach it. There wasn’t much time, she could be back any minute.
It was still there, on the passenger seat, and she had to have it. She brushed a lock of matted hair out of her face with a crusty brown fingernail, took a deep breath, and smashed the window with the hammer she kept in her coat pocket. A patchouli scented cloud billowed from the broken window. The thudding of her heart was as loud as the car alarm and it seemed synced in the same irksome rhythm.
An unsure, toothy little girl grin peered up at her from the ancient Polaroid on the seat, judging her and finding her unworthy. Shaking her head and mouthing the word “no,” she stared at the picture again. The man holding the fish stood to the little girl’s left, eyebrows furrowed and glaring at someone off camera. She recalled the warm briny breeze, the smooth wet sand, the fishy smell, the gulls overhead, the thrill of catching her first and last fish, the sun baking the top of her blonde head, leaving a red streak in her part, the tension, the constant bickering of her parents, the stench of beer on her father’s breath, the way her mother swaggered when she walked.
There, in the center console, she saw the pink crochet key ring she made when she was ten. Surprised, she picked it up and held it in her hand.
“Why are they wasting time teaching you that crap?” Said her mother’s ghost, “Shouldn’t they be teaching you something useful in school?”
She shook her head again, reaching for a handful of coins from the ashtray.
She won’t miss those, she thought.
As she turned to escape, she saw her mother, closer than she had been in a decade, tears mixed with mascara in long black streaks streaming down her wrinkled face. How long had she been standing there? Her brown eyes locked with her mother’s blues for a split second.
“Andrea, wait!” Her mother cried, “Don’t go!”
As she turned the corner, she faintly heard her mother’s anguished sob, “I love you!”