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The Spare

Outside Screaming

She was peeling the outer layer of her steering wheel off as he came out of the front door of their house. He opened the garage door and she watched as he pilfered through the mass of items.

He finally rolled a tire out of the garage and struggled to pick it up for a moment.

He walked to the passenger side of the car and she heard him drop the tire’s heavy weight outside of the vehicle. After setting the tire on the ground he opened the door and got into the car, his body leaning towards her. The door was still wide open and his leg hung out to the driveway pavement in the warm air.

She didn’t look up.

“It shouldn’t take me too long,” he was looking across her dashboard, over her cupholders, around the radio dials.

She nodded quickly, pulling a long strip of the paint off the steering wheel, finally. The sun was going down and the hot air was getting into her car.

“Do you know how to change a tire?” he was truly curious. She shook her head no. “I can change it for you then.” He made no move to get out of the car.

Somewhere a child screamed, but neither of them moved. The inside door to the house was still hanging open.

“Is that our last spare?” she finally mumbled. He nodded.

They both stared out of the front window of the car into the garage. Her stuff was labeled on one side and intermingled with his. His stuff was a mess around the rest of the remaining space.

“How long does it normally take?” she looked across him out the door, referencing the tire.

He looked at her. “Only a minute.”

Her eyes went back to the driveway.

“I bought spaghetti for tonight,” he said to the glove box. “It will take only a half hour to make.”

She shook her head. “I’m eating out tonight.”

He nodded.

“Do you want me to check your oil after I get done with this tire?”

“The oil’s fine.”

“Okay.”

Parts of the clock numbers were shorted out in the car. What was supposed to look like a “5” looked like a broken “W,” and the “8” looked more like an “E.” They both knew about the shorts, so the time was still readable.

She turned the car off. The inside of the car was heavy. Around them the world began to scream, crickets and locusts.

“I’ll leave the extra pasta in the fridge, with the sauce in a separate container. I’ll teach you how to make that sauce some other time.”

“Okay.”

“Didn’t the other tire give out last week?”

“Yeah. That tire took a lot longer to change.”

“It was the back, left tire. This is the front, right tire.”

She folded her hands in her lap. The front or back, left or right, the tires were all tires to her. She didn’t see the difference in which one of them needed to be replaced this time. Within the last year, all of them had needed to be replaced.

“It's expensive to keep changing the tires,” she said, even though her old Ford Taurus was easy to find parts for it was always breaking down. She had to push her foot heavy on the pedal to get it to move, and it wasn’t meant for most terrains out in the country.

The sun started to twinkle above the house.

“Do you want me to just call someone?”

“No, I can change it.”

“It’s hard to do.”

“Not that hard,” he put his hand in her lap.

“I should keep a spare in the trunk just in case, now,” she said more to herself than to him. “Then, anywhere I am I can fix it.” She pondered over the tools she would need to keep in her trunk, counting them up until they were more fathomable.

“You don’t know how to fix it by yourself.”

“I can learn.”

Oranges and yellows flooded the sky.

The locusts took a breath before resuming.