Secret Daddy(3)

By: Lucy Wild

“Fantastic,” I said, pulling open the door, feeling it whip away from me, the wind almost hurling it free from the hinges that connected it to the rest of the car. It was freezing cold, an icy blast sending every drop of rain in the sky slamming into me, drenching me to the skin. I walked round to the passenger side, tugging my cardigan around me, trying to keep out as much of the rain as I could. One glance at the tyre and even unmechanically minded me could tell what the problem was. A flat.

I ran back round and reached in for my phone. No signal. That was just perfect. Now what? I had no more asked the question than a pair of bright headlights appeared in the distance, the roar of an engine reaching me over the howl of the wind. Whoever it was, they were coming at me at speed and if they didn’t notice I was broken down, they were likely to slam into the back of my car.

I ran towards the oncoming vehicle, waving my arms frantically as the headlights blinded me. Just as I felt sure it was going to hit me, I shut my eyes, hearing not seeing the screeching noise of tyres skidding on wet, brakes slamming on. When I opened my eyes once more, the car was behind me, stopped in the middle of the road, the driver’s door open.

A figure appeared, a tall figure, no more than a silhouette in the dark behind the headlights. “Are you trying to get yourself killed?” a gruff voice shouted, the owner of the voice sounding furious with me.

“I’ve broken down,” I shouted back. “Can you help?”

“Call a garage,” he replied, his head already ducking back into the car.

“Wait,” I called out, taking a step towards him. “Please.”

The head hovered then he emerged again. “What’s wrong with it?”

“The tyre’s gone flat.”

“So change it.”

“I don’t know how.”

He ducked back into the car and I heard the engine rev up. “Where are you going?” I shouted before realising he was reversing. He pulled up in front of my car before stepping out again and giving me a chance to look at him better. His face was hidden under his hood, only his chin visible as he moved to his boot, pulling it open, seemingly oblivious to the wind that was battering me. He brought out a jack and shoved his way past me, not saying a word.

“Thank you so much,” I said, watching as he dumped the jack before returning to his boot and picking up some kind of spanner. “I really appreciate it.”

He didn’t say anything, shoving the spanner thing onto the bolts of my wheel without so much as looking at me. He stood up and gave the spanner thing a solid kick. The first bolt loosened and as he moved on to the second, he glanced up at me, his face an expanse of darkness under the hood. He looked as if he was about to say something but then he just turned away, moving to my boot and pulling it open.

“I’m sorry it’s full of stuff,” I explained, feeling his anger at the sight of all the boxes and bags in there. “I’m in the middle of moving, you see.”

He didn’t answer, instead reaching in and lifting out one box after another, setting them down on the road until he was able to get to the spare tyre. He lifted it out and I always remember this, instead of returning to the flat, he put the spare down and then put all the boxes back in. It was an odd gesture, as if he knew the rain would ruin them and he didn’t want that to happen. Only when the boot was closed again did he get on with the job, swapping the tyre over in just a couple of minutes.

“Is Scarton far?” I asked as he worked.

“Five miles,” he grunted.

“I’m moving there,” I added, giving conversation one last chance.

No response. I gave up, watching him in silence until he was finished. Once the job was done, he stood up, carrying the flat to the boot and doing the same as before, taking out the boxes, putting the flat in, then replacing the boxes.

“You should learn how to do that,” he said, already walking back to his car. “Not rely on other people.”

“I will,” I said, trotting over to him, trying to shake his hand. “Thank you so much.”

Just as my fingers touched his, he yanked his hand away, climbing into his car and racing off without another word. I looked at the back of his car as it went. The number plate ended in MAD. The sight made me smile despite myself. It couldn’t have been more suitable. He’d been mad at me for stopping him and I was mad for assuming my car was capable of making a journey of this length.

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