Elle leaned against the fender of the Plymouth watching fireflies blink over the field across the highway. She had pulled onto the shoulder over an hour ago with a flat tire; it was nearly nine, but the air was still close. Her tank top stuck to her back where it had been pressed against the vinyl seat. She pulled her hair into a pony and rolled her neck.
Forty-five minutes to home and now she’d be later still. Sighing, she kicked a gravel from her flip flop and shifted onto her hip. A tow truck slowed on the other side of the median and pulled into the emergency turn-around. She waved and he flicked on his flashers. As the driver pulled up behind her, she straightened. Smoothed her hair for whatever reason. Wiped sweaty palms on her skirt.
“You gotta spare?” he asked. The name stitched on his pocket said Wayne. She’d called for a tow, knowing the spare was circa 2000, same as the car, and probably shot to hell.
“Cheaper to fix it than have to drive you to the station and wait until we find a new one.”
“Well try then, I guess.”
Fifteen minutes later she was on the road again, Wayne following her as he’d promise.
“You’re right. She’s a bugger,” he’d admitted. “I’ll follow as long as I can back towards town in case this one blows.”
Two exits before her own, Wayne flashed his lights. She saw him wave as he pulled off the exit, so she gave her horn a couple sharp “thank yous” and hoped he heard. Most of the time she used a fictional husband to keep mechanics (and electricians and plumbers) honest. But Wayne’s quiet smile and the careful way he made his way over made her drop her guard from the first.
“I don’t get it,” she had told him while he worked. “This is the second flat I’ve had in the past month.”
“Probably potholes,” Wayne said.
“Shouldn’t be–I drive to work the same way every day.”
“Well, then, maybe you need to take a different road.”
[The flash fiction “The Spare”, 2016 draft, appeared first on This Is My Symphony.]