Faithful Spare Tire

“Fucking bastard,” I said, kicking the tire. “Ouch. That fucking hurt.” We were on our way to Hannah’s Mom’s house for Thanksgiving. The distance from here to Seattle was 100 miles. We’d traveled half the way when our tire blew out. And being me, I’d forgotten to pack a spare. The cool air brushed against my cheek. And Hannah threw a sweater over her shoulders.

Hannah sat in the passenger seat, filing her nails. “Told you to pack a–“

“Yeah. I know”–I waved my arms–“I should have packed a spare.”

A smile tugged at the corner of Hannah’s mouth. 

“I’m glad you find this amusing,” I said. Heat rushed my face, and my heart thumped my chest.

“Dad was right about you!” Hannah said slamming the car door. “We’re stranded on a dirt road with a flat fucking tire.”

“At least we’re together,” I said, giving her a cocky wink.

“You’re the worst.” Hannah wrapped her arms around herself. 

“Well, you could have packed a spare, too you know?”

“Oh, so now this is my fault?” Hannah tapped her chest, raising a brow.

“That’s not what I said.” I blew out my lips. I moved my cellphone every which way, seeking to find a signal.

“It’s no use,” Hannah said. “You ain’t going to get a signal out here, dude.”

Getting a signal was my last hope. I didn’t need Hannah putting more cold water into this situation. What I needed was a goddamn spare tire and someone to change it because I hadn’t a clue. 

“So, I should have packed a spare, but I was honestly too busy taking care of your shit.” Hannah slapped my shoulder as we stood, gazing at the city lights below.

“Blaming me again?” The hint of Polo on Hannah’s neck melted what anger I had for her. 

“You put so much pressure on me, Hannah. It’s nag nag nag.”

“Well, excuse me for wanting this trip to be perfect.”

“Look, I am sorry. I’m just under a lot of stress right now with work and–“

“And the baby?”

“Baby? What baby?”

“The one we’re going to have,” Hannah said, rubbing her stomach with a come-hither smile.

“You mean, I’m going to be a–“

“Father. That’s right.”

“Why didn’t you tell me earlier?”

“I’d wanted to tell you at Thanksgiving dinner. In front of my parents and siblings.”

“You were going to surprise us?” That’s so not like Hannah. She wasn’t the type to surprise anyone. Hannah told you what she thought. You never had to know where you stood with Hannah, so this was something new. A new side of her that I hadn’t seen before. This was the vulnerable side of her. The intimate side of her. This was the real side to Hannah. 

But here I was in the dark. Maybe I’d been so focused on work that I forgot what mattered the most, Hannah. We’d been together for five years, and she was the best thing that ever happened to me. Hannah was a challenge, and she needed nothing. Her father was a prosecutor, so I’d not disclosed the fact that we’d smoked pot in our spare time. I guess those days are long over. And maybe it’s for the best. 

“But the way, the spare tire is underneath the car, you nerd. It’s not in the trunk.” Hannah winked. She turned her oval green eyes to the scene below. 

“I knew that.”

“Sure you did.” Hannah folded her lips under her teeth. 

“No, really I was just testing you.” Who the fuck was I kidding. I didn’t know anything about cars, and changing a tire was a foreign concept.

“Then I’m sure you know how to remove it and replace the tire?”

“You got me.” I held my hands in the air.

Hannah smiled. “Didn’t think so.” Hannah rolled up her sleeves.

“What are you doing?” I said. “Aren’t we going to wait for help?”

“Hand me the tools and the jack. You do know what a jack it, don’t you?”

“You know what–“

“Kidding,” Hannah said. “I’m kidding.”

I brought Hannah the tools, and she taught me how to change the tire.

“Learn something new every day,” I said, clapping the dust off my hands onto my jeans.

“Where’d you learn how to change a tire?”

“Dad taught me,” Hannah said, fitting her tired body in my arms. “Dad also told me that any man of mine should know how to change a tire, and now you do.”

“Maybe there’s hope for me after all.”

“Oh, stop it.” Hannah kissed my cheek. “Dad doesn’t hate you hate you. He just wants to be sure you won’t break his little girl’s heart. Nothing wrong with that.”

“I guess not.” We stood, breathing in the cool air. “We’re going to have a girl–“

“Think so?” Hannah’s eyes sparkled. She cupped my cheeks. “We’ll name her Faith.”

“Faith? Okay, but why Faith?”

“Because she’s our faith.”

The Lonely Position of Neutral

Amazon short stories

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