Taking a page from Dr. Franz Mesmer’s book, Simon had been making inane conversation while driving, purposely droning on in a low, slow and excessively boring voice so that after a minute or so even the Energizer Bunny would have been comatose, which was precisely the objective. Not that anyone would confuse that annoying mechanical rodent for Simon’s sleepy passenger, but Cassandra--try as she might to stay awake for him and insisting that her severe headache would never allow her to--fell fast asleep before they went two blocks and hit the highway where it was smooth going and nothing short of a tornado could disturb her sleep.
Simon decided to take the long way home, because, he suspected, sleep might very well be the only freedom she knows and everyone should live free, especially Cassandra. The slow drive let her get a bit more rest than the usual fifteen minute drive would allow. He also drove much slower than necessary, even though his stomach grumbled in protest, but he paid his hunger no mind. He had to think of her. In truth, he could think only of her.
He had not liked seeing poor little Cassandra so upset. What caused her to be this distraught Simon could not imagine, but he hated not being able to help her. Well, he figured a little nap and not forcing her to talk about her troubles—at least for the moment—would do her more good than even Dr. Franz Mesmer could expect.
Eventually, his hunger could not be ignored any longer and being there was nowhere else to go, at last he parked in front of his father’s house and for a long while he just sat there wondering what to do about his Sleeping Beauty. He could let her sleep in the car until she awoke on her own, but it was too cold and he didn’t have enough gas in the tank to keep her warm for long—he had been running on fumes all the way home. Being it was Christmas day, no gas stations in sleepy, little Catalpa Valley would be opened until the next day.
Simon didn’t want to do it, but he would have to awaken Cassandra. It pained him to do it. She was so pretty while she slept, not much different than when she was awake, but there was an added peacefulness and tranquility to her countenance which Simon particularly appreciated, because he suspected she didn’t get to have much of that with her overbearing relatives, a tyrant of a father and an ineffectual, non-supportive though caring brother. He saw clearly only in her dreams could she escape all that…and it was starting to tick him off.
As the car grew too cold to stay, he stared at the bright blue muscle car in front of his own. His grandfather told him of his intended gift for his stupid and unworthy brother, and wouldn’t you know it? Ronnie at that exact moment was sitting in the car with glued-to-his-side-kick Sophie. No surprise there.
“What a waste of a lot of money,” he mumbled to himself.
“Now, Simon,” Morris Kramer had warned when he told Simon of his planned gift to his younger brother. “You’re not gonna begrudge your brother this little gift, are ya?”
“Little?” Simon said incredulously, but the stern look his grandfather wore and after being given his own invaluable gift he shook his head. “No, I won’t tell Ronnie that he doesn’t deserve such a generous gift. I won’t even tell him he hasn’t done anything worthy enough to earn it nor worked hard a day in his life.”
“That’s not true and you know it,” Morris snapped. “I did you and your little girlfriend a favor. Now do one for me and say nothing nasty about the car to your brother. Can ya do that?”
Simon had forced a smile. “I won’t say a word of derision. What you give is entirely up to you, Grandpa.”
“Glad to hear it, Sonny,” Morris said with a grin. “Now try to look like ya mean it, um-kay?”
How Simon would manage it was anybody’s guess, but in deference to his grandfather he would bite his tongue whenever he got the urge to tell Ronnie off.
“You look like you just swallowed a particularly sour lemon,” Cassandra said, startling him.
“I was just…did I wake you? I’m sorry,” he said. “How you feeling?”
“No, you didn’t wake me. Sitting in a moving car always puts me to sleep.”
Simon chuckled. “Like a baby,” he said.
“Yeah… head still aches,” she said, rubbing her temple.
He popped open the glove compartment and pulled out a small, dark amber colored bottle. “Try this. Put it on your forehead, temples and at the back of your neck.”
“What is it?” she asked reading the blue label. “Peppermint?”
“Essential oil,” he said, opening the bottle for her, placing three drops on her hand. “My grandmother swears by this stuff when she gets migraines. I’ve tried it when I’m doing extra studying—which is all the time--and it really helps relieve my tension headaches.”
She did as instructed and gave him a curious little smile.
“What?” he said.
She shrugged. “Seems kinda new age for a medical student to recommend essential oils as a cure for… anything.”
He grinned. “I have an opened mind is all. If that doesn’t work I also have this,” he said pulling out a bottle of plain, ordinary aspirin.
She giggled softly. “I’ll try this first. Smells great,” she said placing her hands close to her nose and inhaling deeply.
“Wanna go inside now?” he asked. “It’s getting cold and if it’s too loud for you I could take you some place quiet where you can rest. I’ll draw the curtains in my room and leave you to rest.”
“I’ll be okay,” she said, again staring at him. “Why are you being so nice to me, Simon?”
He grinned. “You’re a smart girl. Think you can guess,” he said.
“No…really. Why?” she said, looking very serious. “My own family doesn’t seem to…” She stopped and bit her bottom lip as she blinked back tears. She shook her head and added, “Never mind. Let’s go.”
“Wait, stay there,” he said, jumping out of the car and running around to her side to open her door.
“You’re pulling all the stops, aren’t you?” she said, a knowing smile materializing. “Oh, I get it. You’re trying to get in my panties.”
He burst out laughing. “See, I knew you were smart,” he said, before growing serious. “I hope you’re kidding about that, cuz that’s not it.”
“Hmm…we’ll see,” she said, her eyes landing on the blue car. “Wow, nice car. Whose is it?”
Simon sighed. “My grandfather’s Christmas gift to my stupid brother, as if he’s worthy of it.”
“Isn’t that for your grandfather to decide?” she said.
“So I’ve been told,” he replied.
“I’m sure Mr. Kramer gave you a nice gift too,” she said, more like a question.
He smiled and reached into the back seat where he placed her present. “He did. Let’s go inside and I’ll tell you all about it.”
©2017 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved