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Every head in the room shot up. All eyes darted toward the clock. You could almost hear the “YES! FINALLY!” in everyone’s mind. Even the teacher was excited to finally finish. It was 2:40 p.m. The final bell for the last day of school had just gone off. And for me, the last day of high school.
There was a mad dash for the lockers. All anyone wanted to do was go home and celebrate their summer vacation. I was smart though. I had brought everything home yesterday except what I needed for today, which was pretty much myself and my iPhone 15.
Nikki, however, did not think the same way as me. So I waited for her to finish packing up, which seemed to take forever, and finally headed toward the doors to our freedom.
“Man, I wish I drove my car to school today,” she complained, “I really don’t feel like dealing with all the idiots on the bus.”
That made me laugh. When she asked me why I was laughing so hard, I replied, “you’re calling what you do in your car driving? The car drives itself, Nikki. You press a button on the screen, sit down, and look at either the scenery passing by or your Instagram feed.” She seemed confused, so I continued with a simple “C’mon. I’ll drive you home.”
She protested and said I didn’t need to drive her home. “Nikki, you just said you didn’t feel like dealing with all the idiots on the bus. Just let me drive you home.”
When we got to the car, her face went from happiness to complete confusion. “What is this?” She said.
“It’s an actual car. And a great one too.” My explanation didn’t seem to ease her confusion, so I continued. “It’s a 2002 Honda S2000,” I said, filled with pride that I actually had one.
“2002? That’s like a million years old!” Nikki remarked. “This thing is ancient!”
“Relax, Nikki, it’s only like 40 years old. And it’s not ancient, it’s a classic.” Once again, my words didn’t get quite through to her, so I did the easiest thing I could to make her understand. “Just get in the car, I’ll show you why I love this car so much.
She didn’t get in the car. Instead, she just started spewing questions out. “What is this?” she asked, “And this? Whoah, what is that?”
“That is a steering wheel. It’s how you make the wheels turn. This is a soft top roof. It does something… a little special. And this is a stick shift. The only way I know how to explain it is by telling you it makes the car go faster when you use it in a certain way.”
“Wait, so what does this do? The soft top thing?” She asked, sincerely curious.
I just smiled, told her to watch, and flipped the switch. She watched in amazement as the part of the roof attached to the windshield separated from the metal, rose up, and folded into the back of the car with the rest of the roof. “I’ll bet you five dollars your car doesn’t do that,” I said, putting air quotes around the ‘car’. C’mon, will you get in?”
I don't know if she was just curious about what else the car could do, or if it was just because I was her boyfriend, but luckily, she got in.
“What’s so special about this car now, other than that amazing… thing,” she said, pointing at the sky where the roof used to be.
I just smiled, again, put the car in first gear, and pressed down on the gas. Nikki watched in amazement as my motions made the car move, and even more amazement as the car turned when I turned the wheel in front of me. As I stopped at the red light, I looked at her. The smile on her face was too great, too wide, too… anything to put into words.
“Oh please,” I said, looking at her amazement, “you haven’t seen anything yet.” And at that moment I knew exactly what I was going to do.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, that green light was the only picture I needed at that moment and the only thing I saw before I pressed the gas pedal down to the floor. The engine roared to life, and the car shot forward like a missile. It sounded like a thousand lions all roaring at once. The sudden movement jolted us backward, filling her with excitement. A couple quick motions from me later and the car was going faster than before, and the engine adopted a deeper tone than a second ago.
The next traffic light came and I stopped. I looked at Nikki, but she didn’t look back. She was just staring at the car, a mixture of excitement, disbelief, and amazement all painted on her face.
She looked at me. “If I said anything bad about this car, I am so sorry. And I get what you said right after we walked through the doors about me not even driving my car.”
I wanted to say I told you so, but I’m not that kind of person, so I just smiled and kept the comment to myself. Instead, I said, “Well we’re going home the back roads, so you’re going to have an even better time. No one goes back there with their self-driving cars, and this little guy was made for long, winding asphalt.
Every time I shifted or turned a corner, and especially every time the back end popped out into a drift, Nikki’s smile grew wider. If I had taken one more tiny detour before we got to her house, her face would’ve gotten stuck in a wide smile.
I pulled into her driveway and stopped by her door, but she didn’t get out. She just looked at me with an ecstatic look on her face, but it also seemed like she was disappointed to be home. “This is your stop,” I said, kind of confused as to why she wasn’t getting out.
“Oh, I almost forgot,” she said, the grin on her face staying right where it was, “I needed to go to the store to get something for my parents. Can you drive me?”
I chuckled, put the car in reverse, and started backing out of the driveway. “I know a shortcut through the back roads.”