He parked his small white car by the side of the road right outside the front door. Or at least as close to the door as it was possible, so close to the two old barrels that now were flowerbeds that he couldn’t have opened the passenger’s door of his small car. But he didn’t have to, because he was alone in the car, and was just going to make a quick stop at Grandma’s to say hello.
It was one of those perfect summer nights. You know the kind. It’s the time of the year when the nights are still warm and it’s the time of the day when you’re not sure if the sun has gone down yet, or if you can still sort of see it in the horizon.
It was the time of day when the whole day is still right there in your hand, on your skin, so you can always touch it, and it’s inside your heart, and the only thing that matters is now. But it was also Sunday, the end of a weekend, and reality was knocking on his door, asking for an audience with the king of the world.
He turned off the radio and got out of the car. While it was a summer night, and the sun was still almost up, it wasn’t a hot night by any means. It was definitely time to wear jeans again – and he was wearing his favorite pair of ripped jeans – but it was warm enough to sit outside, especially if you had a big fire going on.
Grandma always had a big fire going on in the back. The last hour of daylight was her time. Sometimes she was just sitting there, on a chair staring at the fire, or in the garden swing just looking out over the fields of wheat around her.
“Hey, Grandma,” he said, walking towards the big fire. His step was light and had that special spring to it.
“Hey, it’s you,” she said.
“That’s right, it’s me. Whatcha doin’?”
“Oh, nothing much, just taking care of things.”
He sat down in the swing, and sat there silent for a while. His grandmother was picking up things from the ground, and threw them into the fire.
“Look at your jeans,” Grandma said when she got back from the fire.
“Yeah, well, you know,” he said.
“Want me to patch that hole, too?”
She had already practically made him a new pair of jeans, using whatever was left of his coolest and most ripped jeans and some old fabric she had found in the basement.
“Naw, it’s OK … for now,” he said.
Then they sat there silently for a while. The sky was even redder now than it had been just minutes ago when he had parked his car. He was in a constant state of hurry, and in ten minutes, he’d get back inside the car, and drive down the dirt road, 80s rock blasting off the speakers. (He was very proud of his stereo, and always told his friends that the stereo system was worth more than the car).
But not yet. Now was now.
“Did you have a good weekend?” Grandma asked him.
“Yeah, pretty good,” he said.
“Nice to hear that.”
He often stayed weekends at the farm, hanging out with friends, eating at Grandma’s and enjoying the freedom of summer. You never get too old for that, Grandma had told him once, and as far as he was concerned, she was always right. Sitting in that swing on a summer’s night was what always turned a pretty good weekend into an excellent weekend in his mind.
“You going back now?” Grandma asked him.
“Yeah, I figure if I leave now, I’ll be home in good time. Say hi to Grandpa for me.”
“I will. Want some potatoes with you?”
He didn’t even have a stove at his tiny apartment, but he’d never told her that.
“Next time, Grandma.”
“OK. Nice of you to drop by. The sky sure is red tonight. Gonna be a beautiful day tomorrow. Drive safely now,” Grandma said.
He got up and walked back to the car, opened the door and turned on the radio. Then he turned on the engine and stepped on the gas. He drove a good 200 meters and then glanced at the review mirror, and saw a huge cloud of dust behind him, and then further up the road, the red and purple clouds in the horizon.
His jeans were ripped and his car was a bucket of rust, but he did have something everybody needs. He had hope. Right then, anything was possible. Right then, he knew that tomorrow was going to be a great day.
He turned up the volume on his stereo.