Books are a uniquely portable magic. ~ Stephen King

Saturday, September 7, 2013


She couldn't imagine a more perfect day.

The sky was the perfect shade of blue. It was one of those colors, she mused, that flattered everyone. It certainly was flattering her town -- providing the perfect backdrop and making everything -- the buildings, the trees, even the people look a little brighter -- a little more beautiful. Perfect. 

The temperature had been either too hot or too cold for the last couple weeks, wreaking havoc on the knees and hips and lungs of almost everyone she knew. Not today, though. It was temperate and sunny; the sort of day that sends the Chamber of Commerce camera crew out to capture the area in its best possible light. A perfect day for a ride with the top down.

A smile played at the corner of her lips as she turned up the volume on the radio to accommodate the sounds of the road and the wind and the hair that was wildly whipping around her ears and face. It didn't matter what song was playing, it was her favorite. Whatever song ClearChannel in its infinite wisdom had chosen to play in this perfect moment on this perfect day had to be the perfect song. She tapped out the rhythm on the steering wheel, singing along when she knew the words -- and sometimes when she didn't.

She pulled into the parking lot twenty minutes ahead of schedule. The sheer joy of the wind in her hair and the sun on her face had apparently caused her foot to rest a little heavier on the accelerator. If driving always felt like this, she wouldn't mind doing so much of it.  She reclined her seat and allowed the sun to force her eyes closed. "What", she wondered, "would distinguish a nap in the car on this exceedingly pleasant day from a nap on a beach in Mexico if -- in both cases -- I would be asleep?" She drifted off quickly as tropical visions meandered across the inside of her eyelids.

"Mom? Mom! God, are you ASLEEP?" her teenaged daughter was tempted to check her own pulse, because if it was possible to die of embarrassment then she might already be dead. Her mother's dull brown hair with obstinate gray corkscrews popping up randomly was even crazier than usual plastered across her face along with a grin that made her look simple. She glanced over her shoulder then jumped into the car. "Why do you have the windows down? Is the AC broken again?" She rolled up her window quickly using the crank and hoping that no one walking by knew what she was doing. Who still had crank windows? God!

The mother rolled hers up, too, and brought her seat back to a driving position as the daughter hit the button for the air-conditioning. She let Mexico and convertibles and youth and long beautiful hair fade into a happy memory as she asked her daughter how her day was. She shrugged, leaned her head against the window in a posture of bored resignation and twirled a strand of her own still shiny hair around her finger.

"Mine?" the mother said, ignoring the fact that she was being ignored, "Mine?" she said, to her daughter, to her dreams, to the day, to the sky, "was perfect."