This is the thirty-first episode of a fiction serial, in 767 words.
Over the next nine years, Tony managed to acquire two more Cortinas One was an early Lotus-engined model, and the other a sixty-eight Mark 2 GT. He only stopped when he ran out of room to park them on the driveway and in the workshop.
But his favourite was still the green Consul version, and he had worked on that to bring it back to better than original condition. It had won two ribbons and a badge at car shows already, and he was preparing it to for its twenty-year anniversary that summer.
Melanie had done well at school. She had passed seven O-levels, and was planning to stay on for her A-levels next term. Tony and Annie talked about the possibility of her going on to university. They were both excited. Nobody in either of their families had ever been to university. Annie was talking quietly in the kitchen. “She’s mentioned that she might like to do teacher training too, and teach English. She might even be able to get a job at the school where I work. Imagine that, Tony”.
For his part, Tony had started to teach his daughter to drive. She had got her provisional licence just after her seventeenth birthday, and he was taking her out in the old Mark 3 that he still used as the main family car. He would smile as he saw her natural ability behind the wheel, and marvel at how grown up she had become. All those years watching him work on cars and being dragged around to car shows seemed to have paid off.
She passed her test first time, and to celebrate Tony sold the troublesome Lotus Cortina and bought her a nice little Fiesta that had come in as a part exchange at work. It was bright yellow, with a sporty black stripe down each side, and the eleven-hundred engine was small enough to get her on the insurance at a reasonable price. Mel loved that car, and drove her friends around in it during that summer holiday.
Then just to put the icing on the cake that year, Tony’s Consul Cortina won the gold ribbon at Donnington Car show. The twenty-year old car looked like it had just come off the production line, and the head judge described it as ‘flawless’.
The next year, Melanie got all three A-levels, and achieved a place at Hull university to study English. As that was nearly seventy miles away from home, she decided to live in the student accommodation there, and they packed up the Fiesta with her clothes, and all she would need for that first term.
Lots of tears were shed when they left her there that day, mostly by Annie. Tony had followed the Fiesta up there in his Mark 3, as Annie wanted to settle their daughter in to her room in the halls. But Mel didn’t want all the fuss, and as soon as her stuff was in the room, she told them to go home. “I’ll be fine, mum. There are lots of first-years like me, and we have a meet-and-greet later”. Assuring Annie that she would eat properly, and be careful of randy boys, she waved them off from the car park. All the way home Annie was going on about how empty the house would seem without Melanie.
That autumn, Annie decided she needed to get out more. With a friend from work, she started to go to Weight Watchers meetings, just for something to do. She wasn’t even that heavy, but she enjoyed the couple of hours away from home as she knew Tony would always be working on one car or another. Then they signed up for an aerobics class that was run on Thursday evenings at the church hall, and Tony found himself heating up his own dinner a couple of nights a week.
Ford had stopped making the Cortina two years earlier, and had replaced it with the Sierra, a car that Tony hated. He bought one of the last Mark 5 Cortinas, a two-year old Crusader special editon with a smooth two-litre engine. He sold the Mark 3 GXL to help pay for it, and even Annie liked it. She teased Tony though.
“They don’t make the Cortina anymore? What will you do when these get too old, love? You will have to find a new car to collect”. He was polishing the green Consul when she said that as she brought him out a cup of tea. He just nodded at the old car.
“Reckon I will just keep this one. She’s still a good runner”.