The Little Red Car
My dad used to take me to an Italian restaurant every Saturday.
Our routine was always the same. He would be tired from work, but he'd still wake me up early. He'd let me dress in whatever I liked, whether it be my worn out Princess Jasmine costume and slippers, or the atrocious acid yellow-green gecko shirt he bought especially for me. We'd be off for the day soon after that.
Back then my hair was long and curly, blond locks wisping around me. I was small, barely even at his knee height. My hands were enveloped in his.
We always went to go get our food first. We ate at a small, local restaurant. He'd always buy me pasta with cream sauce. I was a slow eater back then, who took big bites but never chewed or swallowed, but he didn't mind at all. We'd chat and spend our time together, and on my way out the host would place a small sweet in my hands.
He'd take my hand when we left, and he'd start to guide me home. We'd pass by clothing and shoe stores on our way, and with my puppy eyes I was able to beg him into buying me another pair of something I had too much of. When we'd leave the store, I'd look back with wide eyes and whisper to him that something was staring at me strangely.
It was always a red car. A red car with squinted headlights and a grill that grinned with such ferocity. At my height I could barely see past the face that grimaced in such a way, it scared me. When he looked over, he saw what I saw. He leaned into me to whisper.
"Doesn't it look fierce?"
I always nodded to that. He'd pretend to be scared with me, we talked about how it could follow us. When I got too scared I'd tug on his hand, pulling my arm and telling him we'd have to run, or we'd be eaten by the little red machine. I was first to sprint ahead, going as fast as my little legs could take me. He was always on beat with me, matching my pace and holding my hand.
After this I was less scared of the expressions on cars, but I never told him that. I'd always tug my arm anyways and tell him to run with me. With him I didn't feel scared. I kept this up for the next few Saturday's we went out. Sometimes I did it more than once, just for the thrill of running away with him.
One day he was more tired than usual. I pulled my hand away and he let go. I ran as far as my little legs could take me, but he wasn't there. When I looked back, he was still standing there. The red car was still there too.
After that I didn't run away anymore. That was one of the last times we did those outings when I was young.
From time to time we go out nowadays. I don't eat as slow anymore, but I don't like pasta. We go to new places, but I still beg to go into the different stores. We walk side by side with each other, in taller shoes I match his height. My hands are just as big as his now.
I don't pretend to be scared in front of him anymore. I don't run away, or fear how big the world feels around me.
Despite this, every time we go out, I always keep an eye on the roads.
I always make sure to look out for the little red car.