Monday, July 18, 2011


The following piece is one I have been working on as part of my nonfiction creative writing workshop through the Los Angeles Review.

My white Dodge Shadow was parked at an angle outside the Bakersfield beauty salon. I'd always been a lousy parker. The chipped paint and the black gash on the passenger side made it stand out among the shiny new silver and white cars it shared the lot with.
"Are you clean?" asked Renee, my mother's hairdresser. I stared at him, slightly offended.
"When did you wash your hair last?" he said impatiently when I didn't respond right away.
"Yesterday." I said.
"So it's dirty. We'll have to wash it." With a frown, he led me to the sink and started washing my hair as my twin sister Carolyn waited nearby. She wore jeans and a button up shirt, but her hair was done
already, and Renee had placed her veil perfectly on her head. Her cell phone kept ringing and she looked worried.
"Sandy, it's Meghan again," said Carolyn, " I really don't want to answer it."
"That's fine," I said, "Bring it here."
I answered the phone, "Hi Meghan!"
"Where are you guys?" came a frantic voice coming from the other end of the line.
"We're still at the hairdressers. Renee is working on my hair and we'll be done soon."
I tried to shoot Renee a placating smile, but he wouldn't look at me.
"Okay, but everyone's waiting for you. The photographer will be here any minute. Get over here."
"Okay, Meghan, we'll see you soon."
"Is she really worried about it that much?" Carolyn asked after I hung up.
"She just wants to make sure your day goes smoothly," I answered, and then I lied, "She didn't sound too worried."
After thirty more minutes of enduring Renee's scrutiny, my hair looked amazing and we were ready to go. Carolyn and I piled into my old Dodge Shadow, aka, "The Magnum" and starting driving towards Taft Highway in Bakersfield, where the church is located. We turned onto the fast lane on Oak Street and were just passing the Empty Space Theatre when I noticed that my normally vocal car was more vocal than usual. It was growling and whirring and clunking.
"It's been doing this lately," I encouraged Carolyn. "It'll pass. It'll be okay."
Suddenly I felt the engine shudder and "pop" and I knew that the car was not going to be "okay." I managed to swerve over to the side of the street before the car lost power completely. There we were, stranded. Magnum was dead.
It had been Carolyn's idea to name the car "Magnum," after that silly Ben Stiller movie, "Zoolander." She and I had been freshmen in college when that movie came out. Magnum was really supposed to be "my" car because I had earned a 4.0 in high school, but we both hung our graduation tassles from its rear view mirror and shared the car through four years of college, cramming friends and stuff into the small two-door white hatchback with the red racing stripe and fin on the back. We drove it to christian camps to work for the summer, we drove it home to Bakersfield on weekends, and we drove it all over Riverside, where our college was located. One summer we loaded it up with energy drinks and candy and drove to Beaverton, Oregon and back to visit our friends.
Magnum had his fair share of accidents and breakdowns. A few years before I had gotten too close to a guard rail on a cliff and Magnum was forever marked with a long black gash on the side. Carolyn once ran into a trash can. We had both been involved in numerous fender benders, and then of course, there was that time that I accidentally set the car on fire. And that other time that I got a speeding ticket for going over one-hundred miles per hour in a sixty-five zone. The air conditioner hadn't worked in years and the fabric on the roof inside the car had long since sagged down and bore scratches from mine and Carolyn's attempts to force luggage and furniture inside that didn't exactly fit. Magnum had been our companion through our laughter, conversations, strained silences, and fights. All the boyfriends we went through, the failed dates, the disagreements we had with our roommates, the discussions about our futures, Magnum was there. But most importantly, Carolyn was there with me.
And now on the day that she was going to marry Dave, Magnum decided to die.
We called my father who immediately arranged to come and get us. A homeless man in the area helped us push the car into an empty parking lot so it wouldn't be on the street. Carolyn and I sat inside the car together for the last time and laughed about Magnum breaking down on her wedding day.
"We'll always have each other," Carolyn said, "We'll always be twins. Being married doesn't change that."
I said, "I know; you're right. We'll always have each other."


  1. Aww! I think I would have titled this "The Day the Magnum Died."

  2. For the record, I would just like to say, in my defense, that I was calling so much because everyone else was really worried and kept asking me where you guys were, so I was the one that had to be in charge of calling... b/c everyone was coming to me... so it wasn't all me. :)

  3. Meg,

    you are completely right. I only included the phone conversation to give a feeling of urgency to the beginning of the piece. It is a little bit of a problem when the bride hasn't shown up to the church yet, so I completely understood your phone call. Thankfully, we all made it in time, poor scheduling, car breakdowns, and all.