And the car needs to be washed, of course – he said. And Yes, of course – said my mom after a thirty seconds pause. If the annoying neighbor would have knocked at the door and asked with her annoying voice Is anybody there?, like she had done many times before, I would have answered that no, none of us was there. Not after that phone call, at least.
My dad’s arm stretched out in that motionless space, mechanic like a crane, efficient in handing me the keys of his car which he would have never ever given to me just twenty-four hours earlier. But the car needs to be washed. Yes, of course. I should have let them fall on the floor and give him a hug so tight that would have heimlich-maneuvered all tears out of his face. Instead I let my ring finger brush against his thumb while I was grabbing the keys and hoped that he would understand.
Right hand got me into third gear while right foot gave too much gas while brain was blur while my house slid out of the rear view like the background of some cheap theater play when a new act starts while my grandma’s body was being combed and dressed and put into a box, as if she were a defected Barbie we needed to return to the shop. Impossible temperatures during italian summers make everything slow down, and even minutes struggle to follow one another, glued to thick air, counting themselves down ’till the end of the afternoon. Time didn’t matter and it was also the most precious thing we had left.
It was my first time at the car wash and first times used to make me nervous. I didn’t know if I was supposed to pay before or after, if I was supposed to stay in the car, if he would have cried at the funeral or screamed or punched the coffin.
As water started falling on the vehicle, Ironic by Alanis Morissette was being poured out of the radio. You know that video where 4 Alanises (the playful one, the crazy one, the spontaneous one and the don’t know what else one) dressed in Teletubbies colors do stupid stuff in a car? That. But in that auto there were just an unbearable woodland perfume and me. Barely even me. The playful me, the crazy me, the spontaneous me and the don’t know what else me were probably tied and gagged in the trunk, held hostage by my teenage years.
My dad’s car needed to be shiny for the ceremony. Proceeding in that mechanical brush-tour with the slowest pace I was a bride to the altar and a dead to the grave and I was tomorrow already. The flood, water from every corner, looked liberating and no, I doubted he would cry. We would have kept our dams up until the last handshake of dismay and have our own separate shipwrecks a lil later.