Old Harriet (Creative Writing Exercise)







Sidewalk corner of a 4-way urban intersection. You are a pedestrian waiting to cross the street.

A badly rusted yellow car with a large dent in its fender, rimmed with blue paint, waiting for the light.

The 30 seconds until the light changes and the car drives away.


It had been a while since I had walked this route to work, and I was pleased to have the rare feeling of actually not being late for a change.  My early start had given me time to take in the scenery of the City I’d rarely gotten a chance to see.  I got to stroll through the Park, and had the opportunity to see street vendors set up their wares and some older couples casually walking and feeding the pigeons who seemed very comfortable in the routine.  It was a beautiful morning, the type of morning where even the rush hour seemed quiet and peaceful.  The extra time this walk was taking was nothing compared to the feeling of peace and serenity it afforded given what is normally a morning filled with chaos in meeting “the man’s” appointed hour.

The park’s exit was a few blocks from where I worked, and I promised myself upon exiting that I would make a habit of this trip.  I needed to get my act together and end the chaos that kept mornings like this from happening.  I became lost in the endless promises and vows that come along with making such a momentous change.  I would have my clothes ready the night before.  I would wake up earlier.  No, I would not start emailing and Facebooking before I left for the office.  No, I would not…

I was suddenly brought back to the moment by a tug on my shoulder.  I looked at the man who grabbed me, a rather slight and frail older gentleman who looked at me with a certain amount of curiosity.  As I was about to give him the “what the hell” line, he stuck out his nose and chin, pointing to the direction I was walking.  It seems I was not only ready to walk into traffic, but was also ready to walk directly into a car stopped at the waiting traffic light.

I became transfixed on the car.  It wasn’t anything special, certainly nothing that would ordinarily grab my attention.  It was what appeared to be an old and rather used taxi, one that was bought and converted into a car for a family or a teenager who could afford little else.  It was hard to tell if it was yellow with rust or rust with yellow, but one would not be corrected if either description was used.  It was missing a few of its pieces for sure, but it was nothing that this car had or didn’t have that caught my eye.  Rather, it was a large dent in its fender that suggested it had either hit something or been hit by something.

It wasn’t the rather unspectacular car or the completely unremarkable dent that held my attention.  The concave crater formed by someone’s mistake was streaked with a cobalt-blue paint as if someone had applied it with their fingers.  The paint was a unique kind of color, one that I didn’t see much of, but one that had brought fond memories into view.  As I stared blindly at the cobalt blue paint, an onrush of memories took me to a place I had never forgotten.  One that had me lost in a combination of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

It was the color of her car, and it brought me to the first time I saw her.  I could still see her pulling up for our first meeting in that car.  I struggled to fight off the glare of the street light I sat under to see her face in person for the very first time.  I wanted so desperately to look into those eyes; the very eyes that had captured me weeks prior.  I noticed the car only because it was in the way, and I cursed it somewhat for the intrusion.  Yet, it was the horse that brought her to me, and as such I would always remember it.

She pulled up, and I was in love all over again.  I fell in love with her many times.  In fact, I fell in love with her too many times to count.  First, I fell in love with her picture as her eyes caught my heart and would not let it go.  Then I fell in love with her voice, melodious and strong it brought me to places I never knew existed.  Then I fell in love with her words.  They touched something unwounded and dormant within me, and offered me promise that all I had seen, done, felt and faced was worth it.  She exited the car and walked to me, and as we embraced I fell in love with her completely as this moment became the opening to the song my heart would sing to her over and over again.

My thoughts went back to our moments in that car.  We had shared laughs, tears, love, and anger there.  Old Harriet (her pet name for the car) had certainly seen enough of me.  Ours began a long distance affair, so Old Harriet had seen the miles fly by on the way to my town.  She had also seen miles driving me around my Love’s town.  She has seen us meet somewhere in between.  We began, shared, and grew our love on the back of Old Harriet, and for that I owed that car something I could never repay.

Suddenly the old beaten car that had streaks of memory stained in it pulled away.  Startled at the suddenness of its departure, I looked up at the traffic light.  I had missed my chance to cross the street, instead joyfully living in memories that always seemed to complete my days and bring life to my nights.  I had to call my Lover, now, and tell her how much I loved her.  Delay would not do, I missed her and needed to tell her my heart’s story.

So I began my walk to the office anew with her in my ear and in my heart.  She was telling me about her morning so far, how she missed me and couldn’t wait to see me.  I didn’t tell her about the car I almost ran into, or the memories the stains of cobalt blue had jarred loose from within, but I did tell her about this moment, and about how much she meant to me.  The time in between that first meeting and now had seen the distance between us shrink while the love between us grew.  As I walked we talked, and laughed, and cried, and talked to each other as only we could.  I sat outside my office on a bench and listened, loving every word, thought and plan that she was telling me about.  Here, there, everywhere I fell in love with her all over again in a timeless cycle that demanded that I fall in love with her again and again with each passing second.  Finally she had to go, and as she told me she loved me my smile forced a tear from my eye.  Yes, baby, I love you too.

In case you are wondering, yes, I was late to work again.  Some things will never change.