The Lindsay-Crane Center for Writing and Literature Surprise Special Topic Mini Writing Contest winner is Myles Wallace for his work “Car De-Icing.”
Myles won $50 and a flashlight! See below to read the winning entry!
by Myles Wallace
We were stranded in the darkness, and it was still my turn in chess.
“If you didn’t take so long to think about it we wouldn’t be in this mess,” said Jill. I thought about knocking a couple of pieces off the board and seeing if she’d notice.
“Wanna mess around in the dark?”
Jill picked up the chessboard, and we moved into the hall where a foggy emergency light glowed. There, she beat me in three moves.
“Good game,” she said. She leaned across board and kissed me on the nose. I cleared the board with a sweep of my hand.
“We should go move my car before it gets worse out there,” she suggested when I had finished putting away the pieces and she’d slung her bag over her shoulder.
We emerged from Colton’s Science Learning Center, where Jill worked Tuesday nights, at 10:30 and found the Martin Commons deserted—which wasn’t unusual—but now it was dark too. The brick walkway was completely iced over, so we crunched along in the snow. Crossing the square we marveled at the landscape. The branches, rocks, even the individual blades of grass were encapsulated in ice, magnified in their glistening frocks. It all seemed beautiful—even magical—until we came upon her blue Cavalier, the last car still parked on the street.
She spent a few minutes jerking on the handle and then backed off, panting. Thinking that it just needed a manly pull, I gave it a go, but resigned after a few seconds.
“It’s stuck alright.”
“I hope the cop doesn’t ticket me tonight,” she said. Parking tickets in Hiram run steep: fifteen dollars per violation. At that moment we saw a blue flickering in the trees. A cruiser glided around the corner of the post office and then up our street.
“You folks okay?” said the officer, leaned over his wheel. I felt the kiss of his heat vents on my cheeks.
Jill slid over to his window. “My car’s stuck. I can’t get into it. Will you be ticketing tonight?”
“Well,” he said, grabbing his ice pick. “Let me give it a go.”
He obviously hadn’t been out on the ice for a while because he slipped getting out of the cruiser. I giggled and Jill rushed over to help him.
“I’m alright.” He grabbed onto the side mirror and hauled himself up. Once he’d found the ground, he shuffled carefully over to Jill’s car. A hair fell to his nose from his carefully greased comb-over, and he pushed it back over the top of his head. He spent a few minutes hacking at it, but the pick wouldn’t even chip the fresh coat of ice.
“Sometimes you just gotta know how to pull it.” He set all eight fingers beneath the handle and gave it a little jerk. The hair fell back over his forehead, and he re-adjusted his grip. “Just testing the waters.” After a few deep breaths, he threw back his weight in a fury. For a moment he hung from the doorhandle, perplexed and furious, then his feet slid underneath the car, and he fell flat on his back.
“You won’t be ticketing tonight, will you?” Jill asked, offering a hand. He pushed it away and after a moment’s struggle was up and huffing.
“We’ll see.” His face was red from the cold and humiliation.
“But I can’t get into it.”
He slumped into his cruiser, slammed the car door, and pulled away. I thought the whole encounter was pretty funny, but from the look on Jill’s face it wasn’t the time or place to tell her so.
“Why don’t I go get a cup of water? We can pour it down the crack and melt some of it,” she said.
“Would that work?”
She tried the handle one more time. “I don’t know, but there’s a drinking fountain in Gerstacker,” she said. “Watch the car.”
“Why? Where’s it going to go?”
She shrugged. “It’s unlocked, isn’t it?”
As she slipped away, I got to tugging at the handle again, frustrated and cold and thinking that a cup of cold water would just make it worse. Just then, I got an idea. Checking to make sure she was out of sight, I zipped down my fly and carefully aimed a trail over the edge of the car door. There was a hiss of steam. I took hold of the door handle and tugged hard before it had a chance to cool. With a crack, the door was open.
“You got it open,” she said, a few minutes later, stumbling along the walk towards me, a cup of water in her hand.
“Yeah,” I said, leaning over the open door. “Sometimes you just gotta know how to pull.”