I’ve been in the market for a car. I looked into Kia Souls, but they didn’t feel right. I knew I’d find the right car for me because it would just feel right.
It was midnight on a Saturday and I couldn’t sleep. For kicks, I Googled “used Nissan Juke for sale.”
And I found it. My dream car. It was perfect. It was white. It had all the tech (bluetooth, moonroof, push start). It looked brand new.
It was also in L.A. (1.5 hours away, no traffic). But I was willing to make the trek! Willing to take the chance!
All I needed to do was convince my mother to come with me. . . And I did.
It was Tuesday. I got out of work early and made plans to meet my mom at 3:30, leave my 1994 Sentra, and jump in her car to start our journey down.
She had the GPS set for L.A. We’d meet my dad at his work and take him along.
I called the dealer ahead of time to make sure they still had the Juke. They did.
Down we went.
We arrived at the dealer and I searched the lot. Eyes shifting in a frenzy, until I saw it gleaming in the sunlight. My new car.
My dad took it for the test drive. It was so crowded in L.A., due to it being L.A. Live (and 5pm on a weekday) that I was definitely not about to maneuver this beautiful, pearly-white, turbocharged crossover around dirty-fingered pedestrians, one-way streets, and cars that shoot out from parking spaces as soon as you draw near. Those same cars will barely miss your bumper, then its passenger will whip around and flip you the bird because of-course that was all your fault.
L.A. is a heart-warming place, isn’t it?
While my dad drove and the dealer sat in the backseat, chuckling Korean into a tiny silver phone, I sat up front and touched everything. I played with the navigation, the stereo, the buttons on the overhead lights.
We couldn’t go faster than 20 mpg. We couldn’t go on the freeway. It was at a stand-still. Fifteen minutes into our test-drive, we realized the traffic was so heavy, we couldn’t even circle back to my mom. She had decided to stay behind at the dealer and study.
There was a group-groaning (my Dad, the dealer, and I) when we turned into a street, only to find a fire truck had blocked it off. Soon, the long way proved to be fruitful and we returned to the dealer for two hours of negotiation.
We caravanned home, our three cars. It went Dad, me, then Mom.
The Juke glided down the highway and across lanes. Smoothest drive I’ve ever had. I opened the moonroof and the windows, blasted the radio and was in total bliss. It wanted to shoot up, past Dad’s car and take the lead, but I held it back from speeding.
Then, my acceleration decided to hit sixty and stick. The car overheated soon after. I quickly called my Dad and pulled over with Mom in tow.
I had the car in the wrong gear. Leave it to me to break my pretty thing as soon as it’s mine. We pulled a Chinese Fire Drill.
I took Mom’s car. Mom took Dad’s, and Dad jumped into the Juke. My mom ran after him briefly to make sure he had his cell. We fired up our engines, and we were off. I was again sandwiched between my parents, following Dad.
I kept a close watch on him in case he had problems. I made sure not to let him out of my sight.
Miles down the road, I noticed an illumination coming from my mom’s car door and found her phone wedged in between the handle. She must’ve forgotten it in the big switcharoo.
Nearing home, my dad began to pull off at a gas station so I immediately followed and parked. “Is everything okay?” I asked.
We noticed Mom didn’t pull off along with us.
“Maybe she got separated amongst the semi trucks and decided to go home,” one of us suggested.
So, we parted ways; me to my home and him to his.
Ten minutes later, I got the call from Dad. “Your mom never made it home. Where did you last see her?”
She didn’t have her phone. We couldn’t call her. We could only search. It was 11:45pm.
My dad took off and we left strict instructions with my brother that if she should arrive home, he would call Dad and me immediately.
I was distraught.
This was all my fault.
I convinced her to go to L.A. with me. I wasn’t keeping an eye on her on the ride home, making sure she was safe.
My blissful night came crashing down.
I lost my mother.
Sure, I got a new car BUT AT WHAT COST.
All I could do was pace my apartment, gripping my phone and checking it over and over, filled with a paranoia that I might not have felt the vibration against my palm.
Finally, Dad called.
He’d found her.
[THANK YOU FOR READING PART ONE OF “THE NIGHT MY MOM WENT MISSING” SERIES. STAY TUNED FOR WHAT HAPPENED––ON HER SIDE OF THE STORY. COMING SOON!]