WHAT DOESN’T KILL US MAKES US STRONGER
The rain stopped, but Andrea stayed in the shelter of the car. The radio was — mercifully — now silent. Despite the stalled engine, the car retained the warmth of the heater. With the windows up and her eyes closed, Andrea imagined she was somewhere else, somewhere distant and tropical, a place where the sun’s rays caressed her exposed skin and the only man in her life was the cabana boy who refreshed her drink every twenty minutes.
The fantasy fell apart when a stream of curses flowed over the raised hood of the car, seeped through the seam of the door frame, and splashed into Andrea’s consciousness. Outside Bob was busying himself with a series of senseless exercises — checking wires, tapping gauges, and reading the fine print on the battery casing – in an attempt to determine what was preventing the engine from turning over. Andrea knew Bob’s automobile care and service know-how was limited to topping off the windshield washer fluid and checking the oil level, but she had no objection to his efforts. His tinkering afforded them an opportunity to calm down after their barbed exchange in the moments leading up to the accident.
The hood came crashing down, signaling an end to his explorations. Bob stomped around the perimeter of the car, kicking the tires. He picked up a rock and threw it into the field. After long moments, he walked back to the driver’s side and climbed behind the wheel. He pushed the key into the ignition and turned it, but the car remained silent.
“It won’t start.”
Andrea pulled her phone from her pocket. “Can I call AAA now?”
“Fine.” Bob stared out the window while she made the call.
When she hung up, he turned to face her. “I don’t know why I’m so pissed off.”
“I know why.”
“Okay, smart ass, why am I so mad?”
“I think you should be the one to say it.”
“Fine.” Bob tipped his head back and spoke to the ceiling. “I’m mad because you were right.”
Andrea slipped into the curve of Bob’s arm. “Was that so difficult?”
Bob squeezed her shoulders, signaling their truce. “Yes,” he said, still staring at the ceiling, “I think it almost killed me.”