“You’ve packed everything?” I asked.
“Oh yeah. You sure your sister won’t mind with me taking her clothes?”
“She doesn’t even wear them anymore. Just take them.”
We are still sitting in my apartment room. Going through the plans. The transportation have been sorted, quite quickly, and at quite a steep expense. I offered to help pay some of that, but you decline.
“Alright, we should go now.”
I’m sure nobody wants it to end this way. But it already has. You can’t turn back times. And even if you can, would you’ve done it any other way?
Was it sophomore year? I don’t remember. You became the student representative going against the board. You went after all of them. Doing stuff that no one in this country would deemed sane. Questioning the authority? What about your academic performance? Only a few professors were on your side. It was a miracle you weren’t put on probation.
Maybe it’s just that they didn’t think you were anything other than pesky kid. But it was a start, wasn’t it?
We walked to my Mitsushita Polly. That little thing. I’ve exchanged the plate to the one I got from car flipping deals I’ve done during my free times… The police won’t likely bother us anyway. But it’s not the police that I’m worried about.
Eyes everywhere… None to be trust.
I drove the little red Polly to my house on the outskirt of capital city. I decided to drive during the rush hour traffic because then the police cannot put up checkpoints and risk causing more traffic jam. Not that they would care, anyway. The police doesn’t check a very inconspicuous Mitsushita Polly. But the man? I don’t know. I don’t even know if they identified the Polly as the car… They must’ve seen it, right? God. The paranoia is eating me.
I don’t know how she can cope…
The initial drive went okay. Nothing happened. And even if it did the Polly would leave any other car in the dust with this traffic.
I parked the Mitsushita at my house, beside my dad’s car, which was under a cover. I brought out the Mitsushita’s size car cover just to make sure.
“Is that the car?” You asked, pointing at my dad’s car.
“It is.” I replied.
“That seems quite a big car, innit? Your Polly is dwarfed!” You were smiling at the thought… Seeing you smile make me smile as well… “So I guess it’s a weekend kind of car? You car people does that sort of stuff, right?”
“Yeah… It was my dad’s car before he passed.”
“Your dad passed? I’m sorry.”
“It was 5 years ago, don’t worry.”
I left out a small sigh and look at you, you were visibly shaking.
“How are you feeling? Are you alright?”
“How am I feeling?” You suddenly shouted angrily. “The government want my ass, and not in the way you’re thinking. And you ask how I’m feeling? I’m feeling so fine! Let’s go to a cafe we just saw and have a nice latte?!..”
You suddenly stopped. I can see your eyes started watering.
“I’m sorry…” You told me.
“Don’t worry. I understand…” I wanted to walk over and comfort you… But the way you wave your hand makes me stop.
So I walked over to the car. Ready to pull the cover off. I don’t know if you already knew from the silhouette. Maybe your memory isn’t that good…
I pulled the cover over the roof, revealing a box shaped large car. Garage light shines on it’s midnight blue body.
You looked astonished. You said to me.
“Oh my god… You still have that thing? It wasn’t new when you were in uni!”
“Come on… It’s not that old.” I chuckled a bit.
“I have not seen one of those in years! It’s a Kageshima Progess, right?”
“It is my dad’s Progress, yes…”
“Can it actually do the journey? We have 600 kilometres to go.” She laughs.
“Hey! Don’t diss the Progress!” I must say, I laughed too…
After seeing all the cars. Dad cut down the options to only 6.
Bonham Chaucer 3.0 Elegance
Maesima NV-993 Tz 2.0
Kageshima Progress 2.6
ZM Danzig 1.9 LS
Megacorp LFC1 LP
Sadly, even though I expressed that I liked the Bonham very much. Dad didn’t prevail. It was fast and fun, but that’s not what my dad was looking for. It was a shame. I did buy a used Bonham Chaucer once in my car flipping trade. Made a nice profit on it too. It was a really nice car to drive.
The Maesima and the ZM Danzig was the next 2 to go. As while they’re perfectly usable and very nice cars to have. Dad was 55. And he decided that he have had enough with a mere transportation. They made a great family cars. And a lot of people bought them for that purpose. You don’t see them a lot anymore, the Danzig especially.
As much as dad liked the Exil Trhyos. He came to his senses that it looks rather baroque. While if he’d been 65 at the time. He’d have bought it. It was a really nice car. Very well put together and very nicely styled. But it was too old fashioned. Like an anarchronism from the late 70’s. Maybe dad would’ve bought a second hand model and be done with it. He still maintained that it was a blast to drive. And you still see examples of them going around, driven by old people who’ve bought them to last the rest of their lives…
It was now down to the Megacorp LFC1 LP and the Kageshima Progress.
The Kageshima Progress was everything dad looked for in a car. Stylish, well put together. It was not that nice to drive, but he didn’t care. He was far too old to have proper spirited driving. He liked driving fast, and the Kageshima later proved that it could do that very well.
The Megacorp LFC1 on the other hand is also very nice. Not as nicely put together. But dad did expressed that he prefer it’s styling to the Progress. But it was not enough for him to pick it over the Progress. The LFC1 seems like a rather mixed car. I’ve had experience driving it once. They were mostly Automatic, but with a rather firm, sporty European handling. The engine was a gem, and is a very reliable unit. It was powerful.
So why exactly did dad purchased the Kageshima over the LCF1?
Dad loved the styling. As much as the LFC1. He also liked it’s Inline 6 engine powering the rear wheels. It’s incredibly comfortable with a nicely sorted chassis that hides the true bulk of the thing. It’s engine might not rev all that high, or that fun, but that’s not going to deter dad…
I suspect the true reason was that it was incredibly well put together. Cost a bit more than the LCF1. But it’s worth it in dad’s mind. Dad liked good engineering, especially one that last long.
And last long the Kageshima did!
Dad went back to the dealership. Asking about deals to be had. He also gave me a brochure for the Progress. He pointed at the page that show the colour options.
“Which do you think is the best looking, son?”
I take a peek, and then didn’t pointed at any of them. I pointed at the midnight blue show car parked in the showroom.
“Alright! Midnight blue it is!”
Dad brought the Progress home. Mum take a peek but didn’t say anything. But we all know that mum likes the car enough, else she’d have said something.
Dad started driving it, he drove it everywhere. For the first 5 years he put nearly 120,000 kilometres on it. And it didn’t have any issues! Then dad retired in 2000. And the car started to sit more than get driven. Mum don’t like driving it as it’s a large car. She mostly driven the Polly dad got her and that’s already full of dings and scratches.
After that, Dad only used it to take me to school.
In fact, the rest of my academic years. I commute in the Kageshima Progress.
I started driving when I was 15. This was in 2001. Just a year after dad retired.
“I got to teach you to drive! I’m bored of driving.” One day dad said so suddenly.
“But dad… I’m only 15?”
“Who said you cannot drive when you’re 15?”
It didn’t matter. Dad taught me to drive in the Kageshima Progress.
Finally. After only riding along in the Progress, I was driving it.
But dad wasn’t going to let me drive alone without licence. The first 3 years I only drove when dad wanted to go somewhere. He always took the Progress. I thought it was tricky to drive, such is life with a large car.
Dad taught me how to use the clutch. Dad did ordered ours with 5-speed manual gearbox. It was very rare at the time and is pretty much hen’s teeth now. It wasn’t difficult learning the clutch. I mastered it pretty quickly.
I drove dad around occasionally… The Progress didn’t get use a lot for that. For 3 years it only gathered another 15,000 kilometres.
But then I turned 18.
On the day I turned 18. Dad told me to drive to a local Transport department and applied to get the licence. I took the writing test, which only needed 50% at the time (it’s 90% now). I passed with 93% anyway. And then it was time to do practical test.
Dad of course took the Kageshima Progress for me to do it in…
The test then only consisted of a few things. Driving forward, reversing out, curbside parking, doing a hill start, parallel parking. I think it’s still only that now? Anyhow. I passed the first try. But I can tell you, I nearly wiped out one of the cones when doing parallel parking… The Progress is not a small car.
Then, I started driving the Progress. In place of Dad.
“You passed the test. Why not have the car?”
It was not as bad as it sounds. Even though hand me downs car is not something I wished for. I really wanted the then very sporty BMMA. But dad wasn’t going to buy me one. He told me to earn the money yourself after I graduated. Still, the Kageshima Progress was a relatively new luxury car.
I drove the thing like I hated it. I always goes too quickly when on the motorway. It can do 200km/h pretty easily, and I’m sure dad did do that a lot… I do too…
It was 2004. I was enrolled in a prestigious university…
Studying was boring. Of course. But I intended to do as well as I could. I use the Kageshima to commute everyday. And it’s racking up miles again. It was by that point was just an old car.
But it was after the 1997 economic crisis. While before then it was common for parents to buy they kids nice cars. After then it was not so common anymore. In fact… Most people seems to lost interest in automobile all along.
I still remember the day I first met you…
It was not any special day, was it? It was just another classes. I’m sure it was for you. But I remember what it was, of course I remember! You walked up to that guy sitting next to me to ask about the lecture. That nerd… That was when I saw you there…
The willowy girl…
But I couldn’t talk to you… I can’t.
It wasn’t until some sort of event that we attended later that I mustered enough courage to say hi.
My heart rates at the time was on the edge of exploding, I was sure. Ah, the poppy love. I wish to be teenager again…
We didn’t talk much though, and the conversation was very awkward. I didn’t know what to say to you. My heart is still beating fast, and my brain has stopped working entirely. Typical stuff eh? Hey, I was young then!
After the day finished, I was ready to say goodbye. The thing I didn’t wish to do the most at the time. But I couldn’t keep you there, could I?
But then the heaven’s open. Thunderstorm.
“Oh bloody hell… How the fuck am I supposed to go home then? I forgot my umbrella.” I was surprised by this, actually. I didn’t expect you to swear so explicitly.
“Where do you live?”
“South of here, about 20km away. I usually ride the bus, but the stop is nearly a kilometre away!”
“Oh wait!..” I hesitate. Because it’s not actually true “I actually live around that area.”
“You have an umbrella?”
“No… I can do better than that.”
We walked together to the car park where my Kageshima Progress parked. It was a huge thunderstorm that didn’t appears to be going anytime soon. We did get a bit wet. I gave you my bag to cover your head.
“Oh you have a car?” You asked when we were close to the car park.
“Yes.” I replied.
“Oh that’s neat! You drive here everyday?”
We got to the Kageshima, sitting under the pouring rain. Looking as good as the day it left the factory.
“Nice car.” I’m sure the reason you were complimenting it was because it can sheltered you from the rain.
“It was my dad’s car… He gave it to me because he stopped driving.”
What a boring conversation. Why couldn’t I think of anything more interesting? Normally I can be quite witty. But it seems that it doesn’t work with you. It never did…
“All old Kageshima smells the same, doesn’t it?” You told me. I was quite surprised by that observation.
“You’ve been in these cars?”
“Of course I have. It’s not like they aren’t common.”
After that day. I didn’t talk to you again very often at all. It’s just… It’s like you’re in a different world to me. You have your friends. I have mine. And I was not an outgoing type who can just walk up and talk to girls, especially one as beautiful as you…
We were farther and farther away from each other. And it was the biggest mistake I’ve ever had in my life… Why didn’t I just go and ask you out? I know my teenage mindset thought that being embarrassed was not an option.
Oh… I was such an idiot…
And here you are today. Sitting in that seat once again.
The Kageshima drove up the country. It’s as effortless as it did the day it rolled out of the factory.
I’ve done a few choice modifications of course. A car as old as this you have to modernised it to be able to use it properly.
From 2004 until 2008, I was in university. I put another 80,000 hard kilometers into the car. It was at 215,000 kilometres. I got a job in marketing. A good paying job. I finally had the cash to do all the things I want to my car.
So I set about rebuilding that engine. Nothing too drastic. Just a good piston upping the compression. Remapped the ECU. I also put on a bigger exhaust for extra noise. The typical young people stuffs. I also put stiffer suspension in it. And better wheels and tyres. All of those actually to make the car drives better.
And it does drives like a charm. It took a few years. But I finally have the perfect car.
And by that point… I wasn’t going to sell it.
Have I ever thought about selling it? Of course. We all do, don’t we? I had my dream cars. My other life goals. I didn’t sell the Kageshima though. I kept it. Even as I’ve found a nice, tidy example of a BMMA Dolphine TS that I wanted since I was a kid. I bought it, kept it a few years, and sold it on. It was nice, I liked it.
But it’s always the first, wasn’t it? Even if the second was superior in every way. You can never forget the first time…
Just like you.
And then this country went to shit.
The junta government overthrown democracy elected one. And it seems like everything was going well once again. The country saw it’s fair share of conflict. And people thought it was going to end all of those. It of course didn’t. Had these people never learnt anything from the past?! Oh I guess the winner is the one who writes the history book…
You tried your best, willowy girl. I hope you will be able to change something…
The world’s been changing. Many cars of yester years have died merely because it’s uneconomically to do so. People wanted new things, better things, statistically speaking… A lot of Kageshima Progress have been crushed long ago. With every single day more and more example getting crushed because people think it’s just an old car.
That’s the point, isn’t it? For most people it’s just an old car.
Not when everytime I sat in it, the smell still brings me to the first day my dad put me in the back seat of it.
Not when everytime I sat in it, dad’s sitting there, asking me if I had enough lunch money.
Not when everytime I sat in it, I’m driving dad to the places he wanted to go.
Not when everytime I sat in the Progress, you’re there, being lovely as you are.
I drive the Kageshima at constant 120km/h. Not going to stress it, nor waste much fuel. It’s a fairly economical car back in the day. But it’s a gas guzzling big machine now. Most people wouldn’t take it on a trip just because it’s uneconomical. Not for me though.
You’re still asleep on that seat. The journey is going to be a long one, I understand.
It was nearly 2am when we reached the destination. The border. You’ll walked over the border, the bribe’s been paid. That guy will let you go through. It’s much easier when there’s a lot of resent with the government.
“The car is waiting over the border, it’ll take me to the nearest airport. In the morning I’ll be in New Zealand!” You said. A lot calmer than you were this afternoon.
“I hope your journey is going to be a smooth one.”
“Hey… Thank you for helping me out, alright? Hang in there. The worst will subside very soon.”
“Isn’t that what I’m supposed to tell you?!”
“Hahaha.” You laugh. “We will meet again someday, right?”
“I hope we will.” I replied.
You started to turn around and walks toward the booth. With a bag over her shoulder and a passport on the other.
“Hey!” I shouted to you.
We were standing there. Looking at each other for one last time.
You smiled, and waved goodbye one last time.
And I knew deep down, that we will never get to meet each other again.
I walked back to the Kageshima parking close by. I didn’t know when it happened, but the tears just started to drop. It was a hectic week that I don’t know if there’s going to be any repecussions in the morning. But that wasn’t on my mind then.
Then, my phone rang. I picked it up and answered it. I knew that voice very well.
“Oh hey, honey.”
“Is everything okay? Have you been crying?”
“No, dear. I haven’t. It’s the hayfever. How’s your mum?”
“Oh she’s terrific as she’s always been. She wanted to see you after new year celebration. Will you drive down to meet her?”
“I said yes, didn’t I? Haha. Definitely, yes.”
As people comes and goes, all the goods and bads in life goes through. People may starts to change, but cars will stay the same.
Old cars… They’re great aren’t they? They’re the holder of memories… The memories that cannot fade away.
No matter what cars you own, you have your stories with it, your own memories.
It doesn’t even matter if it’s a nice, expensive car, or cheap, terrible hooptie.
If you’re not going to enjoy your own memories, who will?
And that’s all folks!
The thrashing’s been done.
The result is as followed.
This round wasn’t as long as the previous time I ran. But I still put all of my efforts into it! It ended up at just shy of 10,000 words. Half of which is in the last 4 hours of thrashing.
I hope it was enjoyable! And thanks to all the participants!