She wasn’t prepared for the crunching sound of her back bumper against the ice hill. The blue plastic turned glass in the -20 degree weather, and matched against a solid hill of plowed snow and ice–it never stood a chance. She cursed aloud when she heard the thud and the crackle. She pulled forward gently. For a moment, she sat in the driver’s seat staring out her front windshield. The night was dense around her; the snow packed into every crevasse. In the silence, she thought of her bank account and her deductible. Embarrassment washed throughout her chest.
She reluctantly opened her car door against the arctic, and made her way to the back of the sedan. The bumper gave way into splinters. She took off her mitten and ran her fingers over the damage. The plastic slid into her skin, but she didn’t notice at first. Instead, she slipped on her mitten once again, locked the car, and made her way back to the town house one step at a time.
She had spent just shy of two weeks with her family an hour and a half north of the city. The holiday was needed, and as she pulled back into her neighborhood, she was rejuvenated by the rest and love she had experienced while with relatives. She was particularly fond of the evening spent with a rag tag team of friends with whom she went to high school. The four had ventured out for drinks a few nights after Christmas, and at the end of the evening drowned in dollar drinks, the sober cab took the wheel of her blue Honda Civic. The friends crashed in one of their parents’ basements, and watched the tail end of of a 1990s teen flick on cable TV, just as they might have done ten years ago.
There was no indication of foul play until, after two days of wallowing in shame over her run-in with the snow hill, she realized she needed to get groceries. Thinking she would beat any dinner time traffic due to the extreme cold, she started the car and waited inside until it had been sufficiently warmed.
It had since been five or more days since anyone had ridden in her car, and even more time since anyone had been in her back seats. She’d thrown her backpack and bags of Christmas gifts in the back before she left her family’s house, but hadn’t at that time noticed anything of concern.
It wasn’t until she finished her grocery shopping, and began loading the bags into her back seat that she noticed the two bottles of whiskey laying together behind the passengers seat. The bottles were frosty. One plastic flask of Evan Williams, and one 750ml of Crown Royale, still cozied in it’s purple felt sack. She instinctively looked over her shoulder. Where did these come from? She did not drink (because she did not particularly like) Whiskey in any of it’s forms.
The parking lot of the grocery store stood quiet. A few doors slammed on a black Suburban parked in a handicapped spot. Tall street lights glowed overhead. Other than that, no other bodies were in the lot. She lifted the two bottles, wrapped them in a blanket, and placed them in the trunk for the ride home. Someone put these here, she thought, but who?
It became no more clear as she cautiously drove home. Her groceries shifted in the back, and as she made her way through the roundabout, she could feel the bottles of whiskey sliding out of the blanket into the void of her trunk. She had made it a point to lock her doors obsessively after her iPod had been stolen out of the glove compartment of her previous car. While not equipped with a security system, the car was parked in the driveway of her parents house, and the theft happened while she was inside, no more than 40 meters away.
When she arrived home and began to unpack the food, another thought entered her mind. Who would want to give me whiskey? Who would want me to have this? She wondered if it had been abandoned by someone in the heat of the moment. But again, how did they manage to unlock the vehicle?
She pulled a chair from the kitchen table over to the refrigerator, and stepped up on to it. The fridge-top bar, as she called it, had needed cleaning and organizing, anyway. She lowered each bottle of liquor down into the stove top and wiped down the top of the appliance until it was white again. As she lifted each bottle back into place, she stopped wondering about where the whiskey came from, and instead realized she should just be thankful–decidedly thankful.