“…offering outstanding comfort sir, thanks to the massage leather seats and state of the art air con system.”
Dom snapped to his senses just in time to hear the end of the salesman’s protracted description of the gleaming, black Jaguar which stood before them.
Quick, come up with a question.
“And what size is the engine?” Dom asked, forcing a grin of undeserved confidence.
I sound stupid.
“Excellent question, sir. It is 2-litre, but don’t let that fool you! She packs 180 horsepower and can hit 60 miles per hour in under ten seconds.”
Now that does sound good. I must remember that nugget for Stephanie.
“I see.” Dom muttered, attempting to hide his excitement. He ran his fingers through his shaggy, blonde hair, and immediately wished he’d styled it before coming to the showroom. At least he’d remembered his blazer. “I think I’ll take a closer look for myself…and, um, I’ll let you know.”
With that, Dom made a great performance of inspecting each inch of the car. He brushed his fingers lightly over the dazzling paintwork, imagining Stephanie’s face as it glided to a halt outside her office. A car as stunning as she was; she’d have to notice him.
Dom caught the eye of the salesman as he prepared to move on and try his patter elsewhere, and gave him a nervous smile. When he was quite sure that the man had busied himself with the stylish older couple nearby, Dom quietly edged over to the small table by the doorway. After a quick glance behind him, he stuffed a leaflet bearing the words ‘FINANCE OFFERS, EXCELLENT RATES’ into his jacket pocket and slipped outside.
Dom loitered a little in the car park, standing noncommittally between two immaculate sports cars. When he was sure everyone inside had forgotten him, he darted over the road to the Tesco car park and sidled up to an old, battered Ford Focus.
It took two weeks for Dom to scrape together his deposit. Although his small flat was considerably emptier for it, he buzzed with excitement as he drove back to the showroom.
This was it. He could soon speak to Stephanie as an equal. Well, almost.
Dom had learned from his previous misadventure; his hair was swept back in an attempt at the latest trend, and he’d ironed his best shirt. As he drove towards the more affluent end of town, he almost felt confident. All he needed was to get rid of this stupid car. It had been a dream come true when his mum had revealed it to Dom on his 18th birthday, but lately it served as a constant reminder that he wasn’t good enough.
As Dom turned down the last residential street before the showroom, the car rattled, and slowly juddered to a halt.
Dom smacked his hand down on the steering wheel and cursed his bad luck. With a sigh, he got out and popped the bonnet. Leaning under, he stared blankly at the engine before him, knowing full well he had no idea what to do.
“Need a hand, there?”
Dom jumped up, almost banging his head.
“I’m no mechanic, but I’ve had to get my old banger started a few times!”
Dom turned, and was surprised to see the owner of this pleasant new voice. She was young, perhaps mid-twenties, but what Dom felt drawn to was her warm smile. She was dressed casually, in faded jeans and a t-shirt supporting an unknown band. Dom felt overdressed, and a little silly.
“Erm…I’m completely clueless myself to be honest,” Dom laughed awkwardly. Something about the way she looked down at him with her kind eyes and cute, freckled nose made him relax in a way he’d never felt around a woman before.
“I’m Dom.” He said, surprised to find he was already smiling. He straightened, coming face to face with his would-be rescuer.
“Kara,” she said, maintaining her genial smile before narrowing her eyes as they scanned his face. “Are you Mr Thompson?”
For a moment, Dom was caught off guard. It was strange hearing an adult call him that.
“You are!” she cried in delight. “I recognise you from the school playground. You’re Jamie’s one to one assistant, right?”
“Um, yes!” Dom wasn’t sure what to do. He tried to avoid the parents while he was at work; they made him feel uncomfortable. “But…you’re not Jamie’s mum…?”
“Oh, no, no.” She laughed, with mock horror. “He’s my nephew, and honest to God, you’ve done wonders with him. He talks about you none stop!”
Dom couldn’t help but grin. Jamie had been difficult to engage with, but he’d blossomed over the past year, and Dom was very fond of him.
“That’s…that’s good to hear. Thank you. He’s a good kid. A great kid, really.”
“Oh you’re too modest, Mr Thomp…ah, Dom!” she nudged him with a wink. “The difference you’ve made to our Becky’s life…You have such a difficult job, it’s amazing what you do. You must be so proud.”
Her last word hung in the air.
Dom had never heard himself spoken about like this. He’d avoided the parents for years, assuming he meant nothing to them. After all, he was a nobody, and always had been.
“Um, yes, I…suppose I am.”
A warm feeling filled Dom’s stomach. It was unfamiliar, but strangely welcome. Kara put a hand on his shoulder, and Dom was pleased to find he didn’t flinch.
“Well, Dom,” she smiled. “Are you in a hurry to get anywhere, or do you want to come in for a cup of tea before we have a crack at getting this going again?”
Dom gazed down the street and across the road, where he could just make out the Jaguar showroom, with the pristine black model glinting in the sunlight outside. Letting out a small laugh to himself, he turned back to Kara.
“A cup of tea would be great.”
Katherine Shaw is a Yorkshire-born multi-genre fiction writer with a passion for telling the stories of underdogs who must rise up to defeat the hardships they have been dealt in life. She has a particular love of flash fiction and enjoys getting the most out of each word in even the shortest of pieces. She is always open to discussion about her work, and you can find her on Twitter @katheroony and visit her website at www.katherineshawwrites.com.