The smell of burning leaves hung in the crisp October air. Darkness had started to fall, but the air seemed perfect for a drive. Lowering the top of my convertible, I stood and allowed myself to breathe in all that is fall. I love fall. I especially love fall in the beautiful scenic state of Arkansas, where the trees seem to be on fire with color so deep you can see them in the darkness. On this night, I just wanted to drive, to clear my mind, listen to my music, breathe the fall air, and be a teenager. I cruised the normal strip through town, as this was several years ago, gas was not an issue. I cruised from the river, to the local hangout, to a fast food restaurant, and finally to Wal-Mart. As I pulled into the parking lot of Wal-Mart, I noticed a car behind me, flashing their lights at me. I went ahead and pulled into an available space, put the top up on my car, activated the alarm and headed into the superstore. Once inside I saw a group of teenagers hanging out in the aisle. I tried to nonchalantly walk past them, but then I noticed this incredibly good looking guy. He was so incredibly good looking that my sixteen year old heart skipped a beat, and my breath refused to cooperate. Apparently he noticed me as well. He called out to me, in a playful teenage boy sort of way.
“Hey! Are you the girl driving the Mustang?”
“Ummm…yeah.” I tried to smile my most endearing smile, but all I could think is, he’s talking to me…he’s really talking to me! I felt like I might faint, and my smile was starting to hurt. I turned and decided to stand with their group, in hopes of furthering the conversation. Focusing on my breath, I took one more long look at him. He was wearing an over-sized Nike sweatshirt, the gray making his tan look even darker. His black cap emphasizing his rugged jaw line. I snapped out of my thoughts when I heard the swoosh-swoosh of his black wind suit pants as he stepped even closer to me. I could smell his cologne, and I knew I was going to faint. I had never felt this way before. I had had plenty of puppy love crushes in my sixteen years, but my body had never reacted like this. My head was spinning.
Then, in a rush I don’t quite remember, perhaps because I was trying not to faint, and just focusing on breathing and staying upright, he grabbed the keys that were dangling from my hand. He grabbed them and ran. I stood there with my mouth agape, trying to piece together what had just happened.
keys. He had taken them right out of my hand. He had just stolen my keys. But, wait, if he had taken my keys and ran toward the nearest exit, that can only mean one thing. He is taking my car.
He was going to steal my car. I turned and looked at one of the girls in the group, somehow managing to say, “He just stole my keys.”
Since she was apparently not overwhelmed by his rugged good looks like I was, she was able to think clearly. She said, “Let’s go, run after him!”
So with that clear order, I ran as fast as I could to the parking lot, retracing my steps to figure out just where I had parked. There he was, adjusting the seat of my car, with the top, again, down. Just as I approached the car, he zoomed off. I stood for a second, in complete shock.
My curfew was in only a few minutes, I didn’t have time for this. No one was allowed to drive my new car, but me. My parents were going to kill me. How could I have been so stupid? What was I going to do next?
I stood in the parking lot, frozen, waiting as if he was going to drive back up and return my car. I couldn’t call my parents, or the police. My cell phone and purse were in the front seat. So, I stood there. And waited. I’m not sure what I was waiting for. Maybe I was waiting for my brain to process everything that happened and come up with an appropriate plan of action.
But then, I heard tires screeching. I looked up and in the distance, I saw my car. I saw the tail lights as he pulled out of the parking lot and headed up the mountain. I watched in horror, as he headed to where the teenage boys race cars. I knew what was coming next. Then, I heard it. The vroom vroom of the engine as he revved it up to see what it could do. Then the tires peeling out on the asphalt. Then, silence. Again, I just stood there. By now, as any teenage girl would do when faced with this situation, I began to pray.
“Oh, please, God, please, please, please don’t let my parents ground me. Please God, let him bring back my car. Don’t let him wreck it. Please God, don’t let me get in trouble. Please don’t let me miss curfew. Please, God, I will never flirt with another boy as long as I live, just please, please let him bring my car back.”
I don’t know how long I stood there praying, but somewhere in my prayer, I looked back up to see my car come squealing through the parking lot, way too fast. And there, in front of me, was the ruggedly handsome young man. He pulled the E-brake and the car screeched to a halt in the parking place where I had originally parked it. The young man stepped out of the car, looked at me, and tossed me the keys.
Thank you, God! I felt like falling to my knees and screaming out Praise God! Praise God! But, instead, I kept it in, in silence. I walked towards my car to check to make sure he hadn’t done anything visible to it, but I had to hurry. I only had five minutes til my curfew. Just enough time to make it home, if every light was green through town.
But then, the young man came over to me, thanked me for letting him drive my car. And then, he hugged me. Apparently he put a spell on me with that hug. Because that’s the only logical thing I can imagine. His hug spellbound me, or maybe it was the cologne, magic cologne. Because I said, “You’re welcome.” And, two years later, I married him.Written by Shannon Altom March, 2008