Todd’s Astro Van always needed a few minutes to warm up after a long shift at the video arcade. The engine roared to life like a tiger, but loped along like a narcoleptic three legged dog as it idled. The interior smelled like a poorly tuned boat on the first day of spring. He pushed his thumb against the brittle plastic of his Fleetwood Mac “Tango In The Night” cassette and listened to it kachunk into the purpose cut hole.
The tape warbled and stretched until the full synth sounds of “Little Lies” filled the dark van interior. Todd reached down and turned it up to drown out the sound of the sputtering engine. His hand gripped around the column shifter and dropped it into reverse. It was a fluid motion the way he slid the vehicle backwards and then slammed into drive with a loud clunk and a lurch forward.
“Fuck” he growled to himself as he patted down his shirt pockets. “I left my toothpicks on the desk in the office.” Reaching forward he grabbed an old straw from a soda cup tilting haphazard on his dashboard and brought it between his teeth. This would have to do.
Luckily, he only lived a few miles from work, and while the van was in desperate need of an overhaul, it could always be trusted to get him home. He sighed a loud puff of air and waited for the light to turn green. Some days are unforgettable. They’re days that you will remember and romanticize for the rest of your life. They’re bright bookmarks in your life where you really feel alive.
This was not one of those days. This was a Thursday. This was one of a million steps in a marathon journey. It’s so weird how we can exist for 24 whole hours and retain almost no memory of anything that happened. This was a day where Todd was alive and relatively happy and it would pass into the ether. A whole day of his limited life, gone. It wasn’t wasted. It just wasn’t worth remembering.
He rounded the corner and turned onto his street. The spongy suspension of the van wafted over the speed hump. The brakes squeak lightly as he lined up against the curb and pushed the shifter into park. Turning the key the engine sputtered and lurched before settling down to sleep. Todd grabbed the door handle and shoved his shoulder against the door frame, breaking the seal, letting him spill onto the side walk. He slammed the door shut and it clanged with a heavy, satisfying sound that doesn’t exist in cars made today.
With a quick pat of his pockets and a nod of his head, he bounded towards his front door. His key slid in perfectly as he turned it and opened the door to his apartment. He spun the heavy key-ring around his index finger before slipping it into his pocket and he stepped inside.
“Computer, Run simulation,” he called out into his house. A blue ring lit up across the room, then spun in a circle. One by one, the lights in his apartment clicked on. First the bank of track lighting, then the soft pink and red neon lamps. His home started to glow with a soft pleasant light and his speakers started to play “I Don’t Care Anymore” by Phil Collins.
Todd laughed at the random song choice. Sometimes Alexa just knows what song to pick. He shut his front door and stepped fully inside. Even if he’d never remember today. Even if today was just another day. Today was still a good day and that thought comforted him. Tomorrow could be anything. Tomorrow could be amazing. Tomorrow could change his life. But for right now, everything is all right.