Comet by Katherine J Parker

Katherine J Parker's flash about the life of a classic Mercury Comet.


Jason's eyes lit up as his fingers danced over the cool hardness of the steering wheel. There was no new car smell, no retailer's agreement on the window. This darling hadn't been on a car lot in something close to 35 years. It was a classic. It had age and personality on its side.


Leroy's Cheshire cat grin drew a smile from his father as he handed a crisp white envelope to the salesman.

"She's a cherry," the slick-haired, blue suited gentleman assured the kid behind the wheel. "Treat her right and in a few years you'll be able to sell her for good money."

Leroy hardly waited for his to close the door before he put the muscular beauty into drive. Sure, he'd sell it someday.


Elma blushed as Leroy put his arm around her, showering her with butterfly kisses. She giggled, her fingers curled loosely in her knee-length skirt. Neither of them paid attention as Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn took turns at dominating the view through the Comet's windshield.

"I marvel at you," he whispered in time with Peter' O'Toole, neglecting the rest of the line as he drew already calloused fingers through a shock of mahogany hair.


Rice pelleted the Mercury's shining sable body as it drove away, tin cans dragging raucously from the rear fender. Elma leaned over and pressed her lips to Leroy's, distracting him from the road. Her lips were the color of rose petals, but they tasted like champagne and red velvet cake.

He grabbed her hand and squeezed.


A scream cut through the Comet, prompting Leroy's dark loafer to slam the gas pedal like a sledgehammer. Elma's hand was a vice around his.

"Hold on Baby, just hold on," he squeezed back, eyes darting. Her knuckles were white where she gripped the door handle. Her back bowed as her breath caught, and her legs clenched together in the hopes of making it just a little further.

"Faster... Drive... Faster!"


Faith's teeth shone white in the rearview mirror, "Look Daddy!" She thrust a paper turkey between the front seats. Elma smiled, emerald eyes dancing. "It has my picture on it!"

Leroy nodded with appreciation, "Lemme see that," he snatched it from her playfully as his wife scolded him for taking his eyes off of the road, "Look'et that!" With a wink at Elma he lay it on the dash, face up, "Now nobody will have to ask me what I'm thankful for."


The trunk closed with a hollow clunk, "You sure this is where you wanna go?" Leroy fingered the Comet's worn key ring and struggled to look his daughter in the eye.

"Yes Daddy," she smiled and wrapped her arms around him. He pulled her against his chest and squeezed until she squeaked, her breath leaving her lungs. "Have a little faith."

His smile was as empty as the Comet's backseat. He tucked a wayward lock of golden hair behind her ear, "My Faith's not so little anymore."

He slid into the driver's seat again. This time when he glanced into the rearview his daughter's brilliant smile faded with distance.


"Grandpa, what's that?"

A corner of faded brown paper stuck out of a stiff sunshade. Leroy reached up and pulled it loose, handing it back to his dark haired grandson. Mahogany bangs fell into dark lashes.

"That's your mother," he said, turning his eyes back to the road.

"Wow, this must be as old as the Comet!"

Leroy laughed. Jason's wide green eyes said the Comet, and by association the turkey, must be ancient.



Rain pattered on the Comet's hardtop as the headlights shone through the wrought iron fence. They threw a spotlight on Leroy as he knelt, laying flowers at the base of the headstone. The freshly turned soil stained the old grey suit and his salt and pepper hair hung heavy with grief.

Darkness closed in until only he and the headstone remained, stark in the starless night.


"Take it slow and she'll treat you right," a thin, wrinkled hand patted the passenger-side dashboard as the tired voice cracked with sentimental pride.

"Did you always take it slow, Grandpa?"

Leroy smiled, "Not always, but life is a lot like the Comet. Sometimes the speedometer sticks and you don't know how fast you're going until you hit the brakes."


  1. What a nice little walk - err - DRIVE through life! This could have been easily expanded into lengthy chapters, but instead the author uses light brushstrokes of moments that paint a wonderful portrait. Well done!

    1. Thank you very much! I have considered expanding it into a larger story but . . . i actually don't reallyw ant to touch it. It's kind of poignant as it is. LIke you said, its kind of a portrait. When I was writing it, I was literally thinking of the most important snapshots in the journey of a man's life.

  2. i agree with Jim, a very clever and effective approach

    Michael McCarthy

  3. This story makes me think about the relationship between objects and memories. Even the most utilitarian purchases can wind up becoming mementos. In the most scientific sense, the objects simply inspire recollections, though I always am tempted to wonder if in some metaphysical way the objects themselves retain the impressions of human experience.

    1. I fully admit to being a bit of a hoarder for this very reason! I like to keep ahold of things because so many of them have an emotional response when i see or touch them. I think I chose a car for this story because some of my fondest memories with my grandfather are in his truck- usually making grabby hands for one of the Jazz Raisins he kept on the dash (which i now have a small collection of in memory of him).

  4. I like how we see snapshots of Leroy's life through his car; it really shows what a large role certain objects can have in our life. I feel like cars are one of those objects that people form strong attachments to, maybe because they carry us on our journeys. Very well done!

  5. Sweet story! Really enjoyed the visual of his car carrying him on his life's journey!