Simone grabbed her jacket and raced out of her apartment. Once she got downstairs, she ran to her car, opened the door, and got in.
I’m forgetting something.
She looked down. She had her phone, purse, and keys. What could she have forgotten? The book. That’s the reason she was in such a rush in the first place.
Simone had always loved to read. Even when she was in elementary school, she’d always favored going to the library rather than physical education class. The first novel she ever remembered reading was The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett in 5th grade. From then on, she’d developed a love for reading fiction novels.
The library was her favorite place to visit in town. Due to her work schedule, she was only able to visit on the weekends or her days off. She’d borrowed a book almost two months ago. To say it was overdue, was an understatement. She’d meant to take it back three weeks earlier, but life kept getting in the way. First, she was out of town two weekends in a row. Last weekend, she went to a party with a friend and had forgotten.
Simone had been living on her own for about six months now. As the baby of her family, she often felt like everyone treated her like she was helpless, and she hated it. Whenever she had a problem, she did her best to fix it on her own. Going to her family for help was the last option. While she would admit that there were times that being the baby had its benefits, she tried not to take advantage of them too often. Her goal was to show her family that she was independent, responsible and that she made good choices. She’d even saved up $1000 and felt proud of herself for that accomplishment.
However, she wasn’t feeling so accomplished at the moment. When she’d checked her email that morning, she’d been informed that her book was now 50 days overdue and that if she didn’t return it by the time they closed today, her borrowing privileges would be revoked. She couldn’t have that happen. Not only because she was an avid reader, but also because she’d recently started a book club that met in two weeks. She couldn’t afford to have her borrowing privileges revoked because she still hadn’t picked up the darn book to read it. Best Book Club President Ever.
Exiting her car, she ran back upstairs. Where is that damn book? She gazed around her living room, which was in such a state that if her mom came over unexpectedly, she’d have a fit. She tossed aside books and magazines on her coffee table, but she didn’t see it. She walked into her kitchen. While there was no reason for the book to be there, she decided to check just in case.
Next, she went into her bedroom, and it wasn’t in any better condition than the living room. Her bed was unmade, pairs of high heels were scattered all over the floor, and she still hadn’t unpacked her luggage from her trip two weeks ago.
Her eyes went to her three-shelf bookcase filled with several books. It was sentimental to her because it was her first bookshelf. Her father bought it for her in April 2007. She remembered because as he was putting it together, they watched in horror as the news reported the shooting that had taken place at Virginia Tech.
Moving aside journals, random papers, and folders, she finally found the book. She glanced at the clock that sat on her nightstand and noticed the time read 2:30 pm. With an hour and a half, until the library closed, she grabbed the book and raced out of the door once again.
Simone turned the key in her ignition. It sputtered in response. She tried again. Sputter.
“Come on, Sapphire.” Simone pleaded by calling her car by her given name. When she tried a third time, Sapphire roared to life. Looking at the dash, she noticed the gas light was on.
Simone pulled out of her parking spot and headed to a nearby gas station. While driving there, she heard a knocking sound coming from underneath the hood. The noise went away as she stopped at the traffic light. Once the light turned green, and she accelerated again, the knocking sound resumed.
“What the heck is that noise?”
As soon as she verbalized her irritation, the sound went away. Just as she pulled into the gas station, the check engine light came on. She blew out a breath.
“Okay, first I’ll get some gas, return this book, then deal with the check engine light.” She said to herself.
She arrived at the gas station and paid $15. That amount only brought the gas lever up to half a tank.
When she attempted to crank her car, it sputtered again.
“Come on Sapphire. You can’t do this to me. Not today.”
She tried a second and third time, and the car sputtered again. Sapphire wasn’t budging.
"Great. Now, what am I going to do?"
She tried again only to end up with the same result.
“Sounds like it’s your battery.” A man called out.
An older black man who had to be about in his mid-forties walked towards her. “I said it sounds like it’s your battery. You probably should get it to a car shop asap. I can give you a jump.”
She sighed, thankful for this good Samaritan. “Thank you.”
The good Samaritan plugged the cables from her battery to his.
“Go ahead and try it.”
She turned the ignition and the car started.
“Thanks so much, sir.”
“Not a problem. Like I said, you need to get a new battery as soon as possible.”
“I will. Thanks again.”
He smiled and waved as she drove off.
Following his advice, Simone went to the nearest dealership she could find. The knocking sound resumed.
Simone sat in the waiting area of the dealership. She told the mechanic she thought she needed a new battery. He informed her if that was the case, they should be able to get her a replacement pretty quickly, but they also wanted to do a full diagnostic check to make sure there were no other problems. When she asked how long it would take, he assured her it wouldn't take long at all.
When he walked back in, she stood up eagerly.
“Am I all set?”
“Not quite, Ms. Parker. We found an issue with your engine.”
“My engine? I thought it was my battery.”
“It was. However, during the diagnostic check, we found that your engine is failing. You’re going to need a new one.”
“How much will that cost?”
“You’re probably looking at about $1600 for the parts and $900 for labor.”
Simone didn’t know what she was going to do. She only had $1000 saved. As much as she didn’t want to, she’d have to ask her parents to help her with the rest.
“Okay. How long will it take to fix it?”
"We'll need to keep the car overnight. Hopefully, we'll have it fixed by tomorrow afternoon."
“Great.” She threw up her hands.
What was she supposed to do without her car? She hated having to rely on people to take her where she needed to go. Although it seemed trivial compared to the issue with her car, she still needed to get to the library.
“Sir. Is there any way I can bring the car back tomorrow? I need it today.”
“You can get a rental. There’s a car rental service that works with us and our customers. They even offer a discount when the car is under repair.”
“No problem. I’ll even have one of our guys give you a ride over there. It’s just down the street but is still a little bit of a walk.”
Simone walked up to the counter of the car rental service and was greeted by a tall pretty blonde woman with a warm smile.
“Hi. I’m Brooke.” The blonde greeted. “How can I help you?”
“Hi. My car is being repaired, and I need a rental.”
“Sure. Can I see your driver’s license?”
Simone fished her purse for her ID and handed it to Brooke.
“The man at the dealership said I should be able to get a discount since my car is being fixed.”
Brooke nodded, and then her face fell.
“I’m sorry. We won’t be able to rent to you.”
Simone’s face fell as well. “Why not?”
“You have to be twenty-four to rent from us. According to your license, you’re only twenty-two.” She handed the license back to Simone.
Simone couldn’t catch a break today. She thought about asking her mom or her brother to rent for her. Her dad would blow a gasket since she was already asking them to help her pay to get her car fixed. She figured she shouldn’t push her luck.
Simone was halfway out the door when she realized that she didn’t have any transportation. She stepped back inside and turned to Brooke.
"I'm just going to call my mom and see if she can come to pick me up."
Brooke smiled and nodded. “Of course.”
Simone sat in one of the black banquet-style chairs they had leaning against the window.
The phone rang twice before a woman answered.
"Mom, can you come and get me?"
Simone sat in the passenger seat as her mom exited her apartment complex. Since she wouldn’t have transportation until tomorrow, she decided she’d spend the night at her parents’ house. She had just got back in the car with an overnight bag when her mom’s rant began.
“No, only $1500, I have $1000 saved.”
“Well if you spend the money in your savings, what will you have left?”
Simone felt the question was rhetorical. However, the look her mother was giving her said otherwise.
Janet Parker sighed. “Well, you need your car. That means we’ll have to get it fixed.”
Her mom gave her a small smile. “We’ll take care of it.”
“What about daddy?”
“Don’t worry about him. I’ll handle that.” Janet winked.
Simone sighed with relief. If her mom told her not to worry about it, she knew to trust her. Her mom always came through for her, and she always appreciated her for that.
“Mom, can you take me to the library? I just need to return this book.”
Her mom glanced at her before returning her attention to the road. “I can’t right now, honey. I need to get you home, and then I still need to do grocery shopping so I can make dinner.”
Janet turned into the driveway and drove into their garage. Once they were inside the house, Simone got an idea.
“Mom, how about I do the grocery shopping for you.”
Her mom raised a brow.
Simone knew she was reaching. Her mom drove a silver, E-class, Mercedes Benz. She said she’d worked hard for it. After working 31 years and raising two kids, she deserved it. The truth was it was a birthday gift from Simone’s father for her mom’s 50th birthday. Janet Parker loved that car, and she never let her kids drive it.
“Now why would you want to do that?” Her mom asked with a questioning look in her eye. The look that said she knew when one of her kids was up to something.
“I just wanna help out.”
Her mom laughed. “Since when?”
Before Simone could respond, her father walked into the kitchen.
“Hey there, baby girl.”
Charles Parker kissed his wife on the cheek.
“Please, mom.” Simone pleaded.
Her mom’s weight shifted from one foot to the other.
“Oh Jay, I forgot to tell you. I went ahead and tried out the Walmart delivery. Our groceries should be here in a couple of hours.” Charles told his wife, referring to her nickname, and exiting to watch television in the living room.
A grin crossed her mom’s face. “Thanks, baby.”
She looked back at Simone and shrugged. “Guess I’ll have to take you up on that offer another day.”
“Well can I borrow the car to run to the library?”
“Simone, that’s going to be a no. I already have to talk to your father about that thing, remember?”
“What thing?” Her father called out. “I hope that thing isn’t money.”
Simone’s shoulders fell.
“I’ll tell you later.” Janet yelled back. “I’m going to take a nap. Let me know when the groceries are delivered.”
Simone grumbled and headed into the living room, sitting across from her dad. Looking out the window, she saw a black Chevrolet sitting in the driveway. How had she missed that before?
“Dad! Grant’s here?”
“Sure is. He’s down in the basement trying to fix that shelf.”
Simone got up and raced to their basement. Her mom claimed that she wasn’t sentimental. Yet she’d kept all of her and Grant’s baby clothes, toys, and other mementos down there.
“Yea?” He turned his 6’3 frame and smiled down at his baby sister. “What’s up, big head?” He then returned his attention to the shelf.
“I need a favor.”
“What is it?”
“I need to borrow your car.”
Grant raised a brow. He was just as bad as their mom.
“I need to return this book to the library.”
“Oh! Okay. For a minute there I thought it was for something important.” He replied sarcastically.
“Come on, Grant.”
“No can-do, little sis. You know I don’t let women drive my car.”
“Are you kidding me right now?”
He smirked but didn’t respond.
She huffed. “Please, Grant. I’ll do anything you want.”
He grinned. “Simone, you don’t have anything I want. You have nothing to bargain with.”
She folded her arms. “One day you’re going to need something.”
“But until that day…” He kissed her forehead.
I’ll be right back.” He called out as he headed up the stairs.
She rolled her eyes and they landed on the shelf. On that shelf lay Grant’s car keys.
She looked up the stairs, and then back at the keys. What’s a girl to do?
Simone let the sunroof back as she cruised down the road in her brother’s car. She had to wait until he went back into the basement to finish working on the shelf. He’d mentioned he would be down there for a while, and lucky for her, he was always losing his keys. The great thing was he would never hear his car running from the basement. She’d told her dad she was going to visit her cousin that stayed down the street. He was falling asleep in his favorite chair and probably didn’t even hear her. Simone didn’t see any harm. She’d bring the car back.
Simone flew down the highway to get to her destination. She knew she shouldn’t be speeding, but it was the chance she would have to take. There was also a slight chance Grant would be pissed. She’d have to deal with the consequences later. However, later came sooner than she expected. She was about two miles away from the library when she saw flashing lights behind her.
She rolled her eyes to the heavens as she slowed down and pulled over.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
Simone couldn’t believe she was sitting in a police station waiting for her mom and brother. Turns out, Grant reported his car stolen. If she hadn’t been speeding, the cops probably wouldn’t have found her so fast. Lucky for her, it was Grant’s friend Riley who had pulled her over. Simone told Riley the whole story, and he gave her a lift to the station. Riley called Grant to tell him they found his car with Simone in it. Grant was going to kill her.
Thirty minutes later, both Grant and her mother arrived. Janet pulled her daughter into a tight hug. She then released her and grabbed her shoulders.
“Simone! What were you thinking?”
Simone hung her head. She couldn’t respond. She was so embarrassed by what had happened. Her mother pulled her into her arms again.
Grant walked up and looked at his little sister. “Are you okay?”
She couldn’t even look at him. “I’m sorry.” She sniffled.
He pressed his lips together and then pulled her into a hug. “It’s okay.”
Minutes later, the three of them walked out of the police station in silence.
“Mom, I’m going to ride with Grant.”
Even though it was his car she’d stolen, she figured riding with him would be the lesser of the two evils.
Her mom looked like she was going to protest. Instead, she replied, “Fine. But Grant, you bring her butt straight home.”
He nodded, and Simone slid in the passenger seat of his Chevy and buckled in.
“Grant?” she called quietly.
“I’m really sorry.”
He looked at her. “I know.”
He pulled out of the parking space and onto the highway.
“Grant?” she called again.
“Can you do me a favor?”
His eyes widened. “What is it?”
“Can you take me to the library?”
“Mom just told me to bring you straight home.”
“I know, but…” her voice trailed off.
Grant looked at her again and chuckled. “Well since you went through the trouble of stealing my car, why not?”
Simone smiled and relaxed a little. She couldn’t ask for a more forgiving and understanding brother.
The library didn’t have a parking lot, so Grant parked on the side of the street. Simone exited the car and sprinted to the front door of the library. She pulled the door, but it didn’t budge.
She looked up and saw a big red sign that read: Closed.