She’d never felt prouder than when the salesman handed her the keys to the most wasteful purchase of her life. She thanked him. Smile revealing teeth like sugar cubes, he told her to enjoy the ride. She would.

She’d never had much interest in cars. They got one from Point A to Point B. What more did one need? She still felt this way…except in this particular case. In this case, glitz and glamour meant everything.

Her heart fluttered as she stepped into the sauna August had become and across steaming blacktop to her new vehicle. An Aventurine Green Metallic Porsche Cayman S. Sleek, curving lines magnifying the glisten of its aerodynamic body. Headlights glinting, inviting her to give in to the carnal pleasure of its luxury. Mirror-like rims on thick tires. A car enthusiast’s dream—and, thanks to Carina, Daisy’s as well.

She pressed the button on the key fob; the locks clicked. She opened the driver’s door and climbed in. The plush leather swished, cradling her body in a way a car seat never had before. She closed her door and stuck her keys in the ignition but didn’t start the vehicle, instead sliding her hands over the steering wheel, trying, on a whim, to see why this got people like Carina so hot and bothered. She failed.

She turned the keys. The engine purred, daring her to do her worst. She shifted into gear and began her journey.

She shot along the highway, the trees bordering it blurring into spotless emerald ribbons. Indeed, the ride proved smoother than any she’d experienced before. She’d have to mention that when she introduced her purchase.

She could already see Carina’s face when she did so. Mouth gaping, flesh as pale as the inside of a cucumber, eyes nearly popping out of her skull. She wouldn’t believe that such a thing could number among the possessions of the sister whose money she had, as a teen, stolen from her desk in their shared room, blown on Taylor Swift concert tickets and issues of In Touch magazine, and then denied touching; the woman whose hair she’d compared to yarn, whose clothes she’d called “chintzy,” whose home she’d deemed “one pig sty short of a pork farm”; whose boyfriend she’d lured into her clutches and made sure to be kissing when she returned from work. A part of her hated herself for it, and she’d spent the previous night tossing and turning, asking herself, over and over, whether she could justify what she’d planned to do. Each time, she’d reached the same answer: yes. Anyone in her position would have wanted, needed, something to tip the scales before they slid off, into oblivion.

Inspiration in this vein had struck when Carina had shown Daisy a car identical to the one Daisy had just purchased on her iPad. Eyes honed with longing, she’d proclaimed that she’d give her right arm for such a ride, were it possible, for she couldn’t afford the $75,000 price tag. Her addition of, “Hyundais are fine for girls like you, but it’s just not fair for someone like me to have to settle,” had strengthened her resolve.

           She pressed the gas harder. The speedometer crept up, but she didn’t feel the car accelerate. She supposed that such phenomena delighted people like Carina, though she couldn’t see why. It wasn’t as if a groan here or a vibration there imposed insufferable pain, or any pain at all. Perhaps, then, Carina coveted it simply because society had told her to covet it. That wouldn’t surprise Daisy; she wore designer clothes and shoes, carried designer purses with fingers whose nails she had filed and polished every week at a posh salon with a French-sounding name. She’d driven herself into debt via a pizza-sized replica of the chandelier featured in The Phantom of the Opera for her closet-sized dining room, artisan leather couches for her living room, and oriental rugs to cover the scratches on her laminate floors. She gilded her neck, ears, wrists, and fingers with jewels she proclaimed real diamonds and emeralds and rubies, though, having seen the labels in the boxes in which they’d come, Daisy knew otherwise. What she experienced in the car would matter much less to her than how people perceived it, and her as a result. A tragic flaw.

           One that Daisy deserved the opportunity to exploit.

           She turned onto Carina’s street, a potholed strip dividing houses whose pristine siding, spotless windows, and meticulously landscaped and maintained yards strived to, but couldn’t, outshine their puniness. To her delight, the dented Mercedes Carina had bought pre-owned sat in front of hers. She had room for her in the driveway, but Daisy pulled, instead, up to the curb; The better to show off to you with, my dear.

           Chest fluttering, she turned the car off, stepped out, and headed to the door. She rang the bell. Carina answered with a scowl. Then, she spotted the car. Daisy held her breath, eager for her face to collapse.

           Instead, Carina broke into a smile that seemed genuine, though Daisy couldn’t fathom how that could be. “Expensive ride, Sis.”

           “Fresh from the dealer.”

           Carina’s smiled widened. “But not nearly as expensive as it was an hour ago. These things depreciate like lightning. You’ll never get what it was worth before you took it out.”

           Daisy cocked her head, mind spinning but getting nowhere. “Why on Earth would I wanna sell it? Like you said, it’s gorgeous.

           Carina’s smile expanded still more, so much so that Daisy half-expected (and half-hoped) that it would rip her face in half. Her eyes’ glints stabbed straight to her bones, and she knew, for certain, that whatever she’d set in motion would not end well for her.

           She wanted to turn. To dash back to her car and drive away and pretend that none of this had happened, to pretend that she still had Carina’s heartbreak to look forward to, that she just wanted to bide her time and savor the anticipation, rather than wallow in defeat. But what purpose would that serve? One could remain in denial only so long. So she froze, stomach a Twizzler.

           “Eh,” Carina said. “It’s okay. A car’s a car.”

           Daisy opened her mouth to demand what was going on, but, before she could force voice from her throat, she got it. Her sister was snobby. Mean. Manipulative. A terrible human being. But, contrary to what Daisy had thought (albeit only because she’d wanted to think it), she was not stupid. Nor did she—again, contrary to what Daisy had wishfully told herself—lack insight into Daisy’s character. She’d seen twenty steps ahead, and acted accordingly.

           Daisy had nothing more to do than to curse her sister out verbally, curse herself out mentally, spin, and, cheeks burning, stomp back to the depreciated hunk of metal for which she’d paid through the nose.

August 05, 2022 11:59

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