The engine sputtered to life. Caroline loved this car; an old Morris Minor, circa 1960s, and part of her inheritance from Dad.
It was sometimes tricky to start but she knew what she was doing. She’d watched Dad often enough to learn that it was a precise art: pump the clutch three times, flatten the accelerator, wait five seconds then turn the ignition. Worked every time!
Charlie, in the passenger seat, said, ‘You know that’s rubbish don’t you?’
‘All that stuff you do to the car before turning the key. Pumping the clutch is bad for the engine, too.’
For a boyfriend, he could be unsupportive at times. ‘It’s how Dad used to do it. And anyway, anyone who knows Morris Minors understands they can be temperamental.’
Shut up and be grateful I drive you around. The words were on the tip of her tongue. Charlie lost his licence because he was an idiot. Drove home drunk one night after a party. Got stopped by a breathaliser station and once the matter went to court, he lost his licence for fifteen months.
Instead, she bit her lip and swallowed her words.
Charlie cleared his throat. ‘Caroline,’ he said quietly. ‘We need to talk.’
Caroline’s eyes darted to Charlie, for just a second. He was staring straight ahead, looking grim. She felt her tummy tighten. He surely wasn’t going to break up with her mid journey?
‘Go on,’ she urged.
‘I think we’re ready for the next step, don’t you?’ he said, turning in his seat to sort of face her. ‘We’re getting on, yeah?’
‘I think we should move in together.’
Caroline was silent for a minute. This seemed very convenient timing on his part. He had another ten months to finish before his licence was reinstated. Was he using her?
‘Go on,’ she said again.
‘I just think we well matched. Donchya think?’
They were stopped at a traffic light. Caroline used the time to stare, to think. He wasn’t bad. Aside from his annoying instructions with starting the car, Charlie was a good bloke. Why the hell not, she thought. Sometimes, you have to take a leap of faith.
‘Yeah, I do Charlie,’ she said, taking her hand of the steering wheel to clasp his. ‘Let’s do it.’ She leaned over to kiss him.
The car behind them tooted. The light had turned green. They laughed together, before heading off.