Her Father's Garage
Marjorie Carlson Davis

Time had stopped in her father's garage, Bec thought, because in 1958, he still had Marilyn Monroe's 1955 nude calendar tacked to the wall. Bec's mother hated the calendar. Whenever she came into the garage, high heels clicking, she averted her eyes and called it filth. But Bec couldn't keep her eyes off Marilyn's soft curves, the pouty lips, the creamy pink nipples. She dreamed of Marilyn at night. Bec also dreamed of her future, of a life other than the one she lived, a life beyond Home Economics, and dresses with cinched waists and flared skirts.

Heaven to Bec would be spending her days in her father's garage tinkering with car motors instead of being in school. Lessons on Latin verbs or cooking omelets put Bec to sleep, but let her hear a car's rattles and clanks, and she'd feel alive, her fingers itching to fix it. The smell of gas energized her.

Bec was close to heaven now, changing the Plymouth's oil without her father's permission.   Dressed in her brother's trousers, hair tucked under a baseball cap, grease under her fingernails, she lay beneath the car while oil streamed black and viscous into the drain pan.

Heaven when she craned her neck for a quick glimpse of Marilyn.

Heaven without her mother, sighing in dismay. "Becca, get your hands off that car. Look at those fingernails."

Heaven without her father shooing her out of the garage, grumbling, "Don't gum up the tools." and "Go help your mother."

First published: May, 2003
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