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My Friend Merv This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

I felt lucky. I had a car, my own car, and I didn't have to share it with anyone. The keys felt amazing in my hands, and I couldn't wait to hit the road. Little did I know that Merv, that lovely green hunk of metal, was determined to be the death of me. And if he couldn't kill me, he would at least make my life miserable in any way he could.

I hadn't always viewed Merv with such distaste. I had actually looked forward to the day I would inherit him from my father. I often sat in that worn-in driver's seat and ran my fingers over the steering wheel, knowing that one day he would be mine. I could look past the rust scattered across Merv's exterior; I was just excited to drive.

Driving Merv, to be honest, was scarier than I had imagined. I went from driving my mom's sleek 2000 Subaru Outback to Merv, my dad's used and abused 1994 Chevy Blazer. The first day I drove Merv I was appalled at the noises that came from his engine. Merv's chugging and squeaking made me believe he would break down at any second, but my dad had assured me that Merv was safe.

My dad knew nothing.

After I had ignored Merv's ­chugging and coughing, he decided it was time to make his discomfort known. He broke down pulling out of Walmart, causing screaming from me and my friends Darrien and Alex, and honking from the all the cars almost involved in an accident because of Merv's stubborn behavior. He got what he wanted: a trip to the shop – and my ­attention.

Merv was proving he was more than a simple car; he had emotions and demands like a person. On ridiculously cold mornings, Merv would refuse to wake up, barely making a sound as I tried to start him up. When he was finally ready, he would start, but that almost never happened before I was late for school; Merv was stubborn like me. On rainy days, Merv's windows would get stuck open and water would soak everything, causing a musty odor that mixed great with the gassy, exhaust smell that was always present, regardless of Merv's mood.

Merv often had off days, days when he just didn't want to finish our drive, forcing me to make emergency phone calls to my dad to come get me from random parking lots, remote driveways, and school, where I would wait, embarrassed, in Merv's comfy driver's seat.

Those days frustrated me the most because I was convinced Merv wanted to kill me. He had a way of dying at traffic lights, stop signs, or any time he felt we were going too slowly. I would empty all my belongings from Merv's insides, yelling that I was done, but I would always come back to him in the end. I quickly learned to accommodate Merv by turning right at red lights, employing the dangerous rolling stop, and constantly exceeding the speed limit, just to keep the sick chugging sounds to a minimum.

In return, Merv managed to take a few hits for me. Even though I'm still convinced that he wanted me dead, I knew it would be his choice, not someone else's. My first summer driving, Merv proved he was tough, just as my dad had hoped. I was sitting in Merv talking to Darrien and messing around with my iPod when Andrew backed right into us. We were jostled, but not hurt because of Merv's tough exterior. Andrew's truck got a large dent; Merv just lost his bumper, which my dad later re-attached, although slightly crooked.

Last summer Merv took another hard hit, this time from Alicia's car, and I was certain that he would be damaged. Alicia backed into Merv's front end at full speed, thinking she was in drive, but there was no damage at all. Merv seems indestructible.

I used his indestructibility to my ­advantage junior year. After a long night hanging out at Logan's house, Merv came through for me yet again. I couldn't remember how to get back to the highway, so instead of guessing my way home, I asked Drew to lead me. I hopped in Merv and started him up, sweetly talking to him the whole time. By the time I looked up, I saw Drew's tail lights disappearing in my rearview mirror. In my haste to catch up, I whipped Merv into reverse and backed right into Logan's basketball hoop. Scared he had heard and would come running out, I quickly left, waiting until I got home to inspect Merv for damage. And again, he was fine. There wasn't a dent or a scratch; it was as if it had never happened. Merv kept my secret like a best friend; Logan never found out.

To most people, Merv is just a car; to me, Merv is a friend – a rusty, noxious, ugly, and completely loveable friend. Who could ask for more?

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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