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Fresh mud splattered onto my shoes. The day was hot and the scorching sun caused a crimson burn across my face, chest and shoulders. The smell of barbecued food and cement burned in my nostrils. The sound of the cars buzzed in my ears like a swarm of bees. I was at peace. I was at the racetrack.
“Would you like a program, miss?” a young man said. He was selling programs for the race and I quickly shoved twelve dollars in his hand and started flipping through the pages immediately. I knew that I’d probably keep this program forever so that I could look back and remember this very day.
For years my father and I would always attend the Formula 1 Racing and we’d have the best seating: right in front of the action where you can even hear the car driver shifting gears. The whole time we were there, I’d try to ignore the fact that my father was with me. His plump face that was covered in gray facial hair was annoying to look at. My fathers’ odor always consisted of beer, Old Spice, and cigar smoke. He stood about seven inches taller than me but his frame looked about ten times bigger than my own. He didn’t look like my father. We were strangers at a sporting event together.
“You’re happy, aren’t cha?” my father said with a stupid grin across his face.
I knew that these sporting events he took me to were only bribes. These were bribes that were supposed to make me decide between my love for my mother or my father, when truly I could care less for him. However, the extra perks for not giving a damn were definitely worth pretending like I cared.
Something about racing cars always calmed me down and took me away from reality. It took me away from pre-teen life. Nothing else existed except for me and Paul Tracy, my favorite car driver.
The day that I met Paul Tracy almost felt like an illusion.
“Want me to autograph your hat, kid?” Paul asked as he took off his helmet and his bleach blonde hair gleamed in the sun.
I was speechless, paralyzed and numb. As I took off my Team Kool hat and handed it to him, all I could do was smile like a crazed girl fan. He rustled my hair and sped off on his motorcycle. I desperately wanted him to take me away from my annoying biological father.
As I sat on top of a grassy hill, I’d watch the cars race by. Team Kool was in second and third place so far. The excitement and anxiety was quickly building up in my chest.
Once Paul crossed the black and white checkered line, I jumped up and spilt Red Bull everywhere. My father carefully tried to clean the sugary based drink off of my jacket but I pushed him away. Didn’t he just see that The Paul Tracy just came in second place? And as soon as the race was over, so was my fun. My father quickly grabbed my arm and rushed me towards the parking lot.
“Can’t we just stay a little bit longer?” I asked with sad droopy eyes.
“No, we need to leave now. Traffic is going to be a b**** and I don’t want to be stuck here forever,” my father said with no expression.
The feeling of leaving the racetracks to me was like being dragged back home in chains against my will. It’s heartbreaking and all I wanted to do was cry.
“Wait!” I said and I quickly opened my backpack and grabbed a plastic sandwich bag out.
I dropped to my knees and cupped my hands underneath the dirt. The grains of dirt flowed through my fingers and I grabbed a big handful of it and placed it inside the bag. Now my heaven was portable and a small piece of my true home could be with me at all times.
As we got into the car, I could feel my heart sinking into the lower pit of my stomach. My father scanned through all of the different radio stations, and once he realized that he didn’t want to listen to anything, he turned the radio off. He didn’t speak a word; he just looked straight ahead to the endless road. I had to endure a four hour long ride on this very road and at this thought; I put my headphones on and started playing my Game Boy Color.
The entire ride home, I prayed for a car crash.