Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: CHILL (10/27/16)
- TITLE: A Second Stretch for Stella
By Noel Mitaxa
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Her paintwork was always gleaming, and inside she cocooned her passengers with wood panelling, a drinks refrigerator, Bluetooth connectivity and a full surround-sound speaker system. She enjoyed making them feel important as they cruised to special events on her plush leather seats, immune to bumps or jerkiness, as they surveyed the rest of the world through her tinted windows.
Bridal parties were Stella’s favourite guests. They infused the fragrance of her climate-control system happiness and hopes―an infusion that stayed right through the inevitable inconvenience of removing the last traces of confetti. Yet she also sensed the need for privacy whenever she took grieving people to funerals; their sadness needing no intrusive noises.
But tonight she was surrounded by automotive glamour.
Motor racing’s A-Listers were in town to honour Shane Stevens, a hometown hero who had left everyone else in his wake to win the national championship. Racing fans were surrounding the hotel to catch sight of their heroes in the throng of racing teams, manufacturers, sponsors, media personalities and officials at his presentation dinner.
Stella disgorged her passengers among the TV-crews on the red carpet, pausing long enough to be noticed, before gliding over towards other limos in nearby bus-parking bays.
She felt so-o-o-o-o cool as she stopped beside a very handsome car-transporter van that immaculately displaying the crimson-backed, royal blue stripes of the Stevens Racing Team. Wow, this semi was an impressive unit; and she had him to herself.
Trying to mask her own increasing oil-pressure and engine coolant temperature―and aware of envious glares from other cars―she fluttered her lights in his direction. “I’m Stella,” she purred as calmly as she could, but in no time she was gushing. “And you are one big hunk of truck. Isn’t it exciting to be here? I can just imagine how thrilled you must be, carrying Steve’s racing car and getting so much attention. You obviously think that looking our best is so import-”
“Pleased to meet you Stella.” a deep reply interrupted her from somewhere behind that immense grille. “My name is Roger, and I’ve been part of Shane’s team for a long time. Yes, this is a big occasion, but racing is less glamorous when you see how easily people can be injured or even killed. Or how races can be so quickly lost because somebody overlooks minor details.”
“But Shane has never had any problems like that, as a champion, has he Roger?” whispered Stella, feeling less and less comfortable as this conversation headed further south. Out of her depth.
“Why not wait until tonight is over, Stella?” replied Roger quietly. “Then I’ll explain.”
Stella retreated to her thoughts. Roger’s promised explanation kept changing shape in her mind, without getting any clearer or more positive. She had always charmed her way through tension, but no warmth looked likely. Worse, because of motor racing’s summer-sport status, with the season over, an unwanted promise―of an approaching frost―was not improving her mood.
Who needs dew condensing over my paint and locking on road-grime before it starts icing up my windows? she wondered, as time passed.
Finally, she could see movement at the hotel foyer. Several nearby limos responded, smoothly making their way to line up and collect their human cargo. Stella then saw two clusters of men wearing Shane Stevens’ team gear heading her way; but what were they pushing?
They had almost reached Roger’s back door when overhead lighting flashed its reflection off the vehicle she was expecting to see―the aerodynamic missile that had carried off the national championship.
But what was this second, battered little heap doing there?
“Roger, why are they bothering with that ugly little car?” she dared to ask, wondering if any thawing was imminent.
“Stella, Shane takes this ugly little car to every race and ceremony he can,” he replied with a smile. “It’s the first he ever raced on dirt tracks, where he learned how control a skid by steering through it instead of hitting the brakes and hurting themselves. He’s never forgotten what he came from, and this car helps him to show kids about flowing their dreams from wherever they are, and working towards them.
“Stella, we obviously enjoy the best, but we let’s avoid getting too excited by how good we look; or we might miss learning from what others can show us on the inside.
Hey, thought Stella, this Roger isn’t so cold after all…
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