Finding parking in the University City area was proving to be harder than I thought it would be. I sigh, pressing my foot on the brake as I check the rear-view mirror of my 1987 Toyota Corolla. The reflection of the setting sun in my rear view mirror blinds me but I can make out the masses of cars inching closer, honking their horns in frustration in typical rush hour fashion. I take a right, going around the block again hoping for an open parking spot.
As I turn into the street again I notice a car double parked, it’s blinkers on as the owner slams the door, running into the same restaurant where I’d ordered takeout. I realize I can do the same thing and pull up in front of him. I push my blinker on, leaving the keys in the ignition since I’d be in and out with my food. I run inside, starting to salivate as I think of my tasty fish and chips waiting for me.
“Hey Ali! I have your order ready for you here.” My friend Karim stands behind the register grabbing my food for me. I grin, thanking him as I inhale the enticing aroma of battered fish and crispy fries.
“Eating here or taking out?” he asks cheerfully.
“I'd love to sit down but I couldn’t find parking out there so I’m double parked.” I cringe, peering out the window to check on it.
“To go, it is then.” He replies nonchalantly. We chat for a minute or two as I tell him what I’ve been up to. I try to speed up the conversation, my car on my mind.
“See ya!” he calls out as I step outside. I walk towards my car and double take as I notice someone getting in on the driver’s side.
My heart skips a beat as my mind registers that it’s my car. I stand frozen for a split second out of sheer shock as the car, my car, begins to drive away. My breath hitches and the feeling in my legs returns. My mind goes black as my legs move on their own accord and I run. My feet slam the pavement, my chest heaving as I attempt to catch my breath.
“That’s-“ I heave, “That’s my car!” I keep running, pedestrians moving out of my way, showing mild interest in my frenzy. Two blocks away, the car turns and it hits me that I have no chance of getting it back. I stumble over to the curb as my legs give away and plop down, my head bowed. My hands shake as I run my fingers through my hair, rubbing my temples. I laugh humorlessly, looking at my plastic bag that once had my takeout box full of food, now half empty, as remains of mushy French fries and pieces of fish fall out.
Next time, I’ll take they key out of the ignition and lock the door.