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Old Wheels

by Michèle Nardelli

By Michèle NardelliPublished about a month ago 3 min read
Old Wheels
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

I never wake in fright from this dream. Instead, there is a strange sense of longing and relief.

Whether I find you in fine working order, Duco shined in a way it never was in real life or bedraggled with flat tires and pigeon poop on your round old bonnet, my first car – affectionately named Gubby, just comes back to me again and again in my dreams, a motif of something I am yet to clarify.

My second hand, often unreliable, 1962 cream Volkswagon Beetle, is always the end point of a dream.

The rest of the dream is never the same and honestly the myriad storylines that bring me to the garage are misty – a chase, a holiday, a need to get supplies – they all lead to you, a little car holding a bucketful of sentiment.

A counsellor told me once, dream symbolism is a load of phooey. To be fair what they were saying was that it is not encyclopedic or predictive – dreaming about a red sports car does not mean you are going to have a torrid affair or that it is what you are yearning for. Objects don’t have an assigned meaning but how you feel about them might be important.

So, let’s not throw the concept out the window – Freud and Jung would be so disheartened.

Instead, I suppose it would be wise, some 50 years on to consider what role that car had in my real life.

A first grown-up purchase with money I had earned myself. The keys to freedom, going where you want when you want. The mastery of a manual transition without lessons from a proper instructor. The responsibility of paying for its many breakdowns, flat batteries, crossed wires (a horn that tooted whenever it felt like it and not when it was asked to).

It was a mere six months between buying the car, getting married at a ridiculously young age, and finally getting a puppy (a lifelong dream…the puppy, not the husband). And somehow all of that got wrapped up in the car – new love, a dog, doing my own grocery shopping, living out of home – little life threads sewn unconsciously into its red vinyl seat covers.

So little unreliable car, you haunt me occasionally in a dusty garage in the dusty corners of my dream world.

I always wake up when I find you.

Sometimes there is a lump in my throat, because you have appeared like a rusty carcass – a layer of thick dust across your body, windows laced with cobwebs, wheels inches deep in the dirt floor, your axle a hair’s breadth from the ground. As though entombed, you emerge in an archaeological dig of my past – a sad reminder of a life that I only connect with as a stranger, a scientific observer.

In other dreams you are a serendipitous find. I never expect you to be there, but I urgently need to get somewhere, and there you are, parked in the carport, not looking your best and I have grave doubts that you are functional. But just when I need you the most…I hop in, turn the key and you fire up that unmistakable - put, put, putter, vroom - and I smile so wide that it bubbles up as a laugh and I wake up.

In other dreamscapes, you have a rival. There are two cars in the carport – something sleek and new and then the unmistakable you, Gubby, and I must choose. Often, I look at you harshly and wonder why you are even there as I slide into the luxury hatchback and take off, reminding whoever is with me that you just don’t work anymore.

But other times I hesitate and try you out only to be amazed that you are still ticking over. I am always kind of relieved when I can hear your engine’s rattly purr. And then I have these traitorous thoughts about how valuable you might be, considering your modern status as a classic car if not quite vintage, you would fetch good money for a 1962 Beetle.

But I never sell you.

Instead, I wake up, feeling a bit sheepish.

Short Story

About the Creator

Michèle Nardelli

I write...I suppose, because I always have. Once a journalist, then a PR writer, for the first time I am dabbling in the creative. Now at semi-retirement I am still deciding what might be next.

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Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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  • Difference lovethabout a month ago


Michèle NardelliWritten by Michèle Nardelli

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