Monday, 17 October 2011

The Old Merc

We have an old, white Mercedes Benz. It's about my husband's age, (mid forties) . It has beautiful , dark blue leather seats that are cracked and worn.  It used to belong to my father-in-law, and I swear you can still smell the stale, yet comforting smell of pipe tobacco that has permeated the upholstery  from all the years he drove with his pipe hooked into the corner of his mouth.
We used the old Merc as our "going away" car when we got married,  but haven't found too much use for it since then. It now sits in the corner of the farm shed, rather forlornly, covered  to protect it from bird droppings, with a faded  maroon and gold carpet that used to be in my husband's bedroom as a child.
Every now and then the old merc  gets raised from its slumber, and parked on the front lawn, where it 's washed down with a hose, and polished until it shines.  I can see the expression on that old car's face lift out of its dejectedness, and glow with pride. We always brag that no matter how long the old Merc stands, it always starts on the first turn of the key!
One Sunday we decide to go to Church.  Unfortunately I can't rustle  up much enthusiasm. My husband does not approve of what I'm wearing and this doesn't improve my mood. It's a wintry day and I've put on some leggings, boots and a longish mini skirt. (I do realise my age!) It's the mini skirt that simply won't do in the Dutch Reform Church. Without any grace I change into  black slacks.
The old Merc is gleaming for the occasion and we are almost ready to leave when one of the farm labourers reminds us that his three children need a lift back to town for school on Monday. "These bloody kids are going to make us late for church." My husband is not impressed. I remind him that Christian charity is more important than being in time for church.
When we pull up to pick up the children, there are not just three of them, but seven! The neighbouring farm children need a lift too. They all pile on to the  back seat. Thank goodness they made these old cars for big families, back in the days when there was no television!
We set off for church on the corrugated, dirt road. My five year old daughter is on my lap, and there are seven eager  little coffee- coloured faces behind me. I smile to myself for the first time today. What a sight we must be! Glancing sideways at my husband I notice how handsome he looks in his "Sunday best". Casually he takes my hand and places it on his thigh. We rattle on into town, dust streaming behind us. 
 by Madame Brattex

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