There is an anonymity that comes with driving a white car, Simon tells me. He hunkers down in his Mitsubishi Mirage, white, wraps his hands around the wheel and fits fingers to well worn ridges. When I first sat in his car there was a pair of black gloves on the front seat. It was in winter. A car is a cupboard. I cannot drive so I fade into the bitumen road, water on a carport floor.
People who drive white cars can be anything. I wear white shoes so I can be anything too, but it is winter and they are printed with mud marks and frequented by waves crashing onto a rubber shoreline. If you pick up the shoes you can trace the tide and rub it away with a damp cloth, everything beginning again box fresh and free from the imprint of life. Soft white paper wrapping itself around your feet and a cardboard lid pushing you down, closer. Do you often feel contained? I stack empty shoe boxes one on top of the other, watch shoes wander around the house. In winter they collect dirt in their pockets, turn it out out onto the floorboards when they are alone. Refuse to sleep outside.
Life begins on the ground. If you look closely it’s where you will find house foundations and your own feet, the feet of an animal you have never seen. I tighten my shoe laces from top to bottom. Nothing is built on the road. A set path secured and stored away. It’s a car’s world. I walk away from the sidewalk littered with fragmented snail shells, over the green strip of grass that has been allowed to grow. I step down and place new rubber onto the road: sneakers never as sturdy as the outer edge of a tire.
I imagine my feet moving around, rubber soles never leaving the road as they roll. Shoelaces left behind, bending under the weight of a metal body. My body is made for movement, safety. I am tested again and again. Insured. My body strapped in before a crash. You transporting your family in seven seat comfort and superior design. I am a cavern, filled with empty coffee cups and parking tickets. I am collecting coins you do not know about but need, hold them in hard to reach places. A blue car beeps at me while I block its path. I have been walking slowly, thinking about my features. My insides stopping and starting at a turn, price depreciating upon purchase. A man, a woman screaming inside of me, knuckles white at the wheel and holding my handles as I drive.
I have never had an iPhone. Your eyes in my rear view mirror, looking into me and alert like never before. It’s all routine now. Waiting while you are at work on Thursday. A woman runs her hand over my body. Leaves a print in the dust, though there is not much. Paint slowly flaking away and dug from my doors as another body pushes against me, scrapes back my outer skin. Worth less.
I move away from the road and back to the grass. I find the rough path that bites when you fall. My feet move one step at a time, inferior transportation. Cars move past me, sleek in the summer sun. A car cannot sweat. I look away when they draw near, ashamed. A car drives past, seamless and gliding. Engages with the bitumen, moves through its carved path. Paint smooth and liquid in the sun, my skin dead and dry. Covered in clothes. People who drive white cars can be anything.
Words by Bryce Newton, Art by Jade Newton
This article first appeared in print volume 88 edition 1 HEAT