[Mark] Racing Hearts (Chapter 1)
Reno, Nevada’s third biggest city. Yet it’s still so small to me. It’s a sunny as Telavi, but far safer, and it feels more like home to me. Which is strange because I don’t recognize any of the landscape I’m passing through. I realize just how long I’ve been away. Ten years and I feel like being in another city; It’s home but it’s not. Everything has changed, nothing to remind me of what I left here. That’s perfect. It’s another new start; it’ll help me, for sure.
The racing track has changed too. Became all fancy and stuff. I’m not even sure uncle Kameron still works here, haven’t talked to him in years. I’ve been away and cut all ties with my old life for a while. Not that I became bitter or anything, uncle Kam knows I love him. I just needed a pause, a really long one, and they all gave it to me.
The race track looks like the ones you’d find in bigger cities, in France or England. It makes me forget it’s in a 250 000 citizen city. It looks like it was custom-made for a race car superstar. Wow.
“Look at her!” Uncle beams at me, his eyes getting smaller, his face wrinkly and old and beautiful. He’s dressed in his usual black, dirty overalls and a white T-shirt. He lost weight. A lot of it. I preferred him chubby, he was like a big teddy bear. He looks so much older now; I can’t believe I missed out so much.
I smile back at him, spreading my arms wide open for him. He takes me in his arms as the old crew closes in. He’s warp and he smells like cars. I missed him. We hug for a long moment before he lets me go.
“What a tan. Vacations do you good, Siv.” He says proudly, his big hands cupping my face effortlessly. Vacations, he says. Vacations.
“Thank you, Kam.” I reply, taking his hand and kissing the back of it. His eyes are all smiley; he looks happy; my heart is all warm.
“How are you doing, my darling?” He asks softly. The others are listening as well.
“Good.” I reply, honestly. He smiles but says nothing. “Really, I’m fine.”
“Okay.” He says before kissing my cheek. When he retreats, Xavier takes a step forward and squeezes me in his big arms. He’s got older too, but gained weight. He, who I used to call slender man, is in fact a teddy bear.
“Xav.” I say happily, returning his hug. He pulls back and pats my head with both hands in an adoring manner, but his face isn’t smiling.
“If you’re not sure, you can still cancel everything. I’ll talk to Isaac, he’ll take me back, we can wait another season.” He says, and he’s almost pleading. Does he think I’ve left my home of ten years, traveled all these miles just to decide not to do anything?
“Xav, you left your foal for me. I’m not letting you down now.” I declare, putting a hand on his shoulder. He gives me a stern look.
“You were always my foal, Sivan. But don’t do this for me, do it for you.” He murmurs.
“I’ll be fine, Xav.” I moan, not needing to hear the rant he’s been serving me for a week ever since I called to say I was coming back. Closing the subject, I go and hug the other crew members, Elijah, Ronny and Sam. They’ve all aged nicely.
“I’ll go change myself.” I say when we’re done with the hugging and kissing. They all wave at me as I turn on my heels towards the lockers, refraining my trembling legs from running. In my locker, I find a brand new suit. The leather smells like fresh start. It’s white and red, and fits like a glove. I had forgotten just how empowering a racing suit was. Everything has become unfamiliar. I pick up my helmet. It’s really light, surprisingly. I don’t want something that light protecting my brain. Unsure, I bang it on the floor, and it doesn’t break.
Things sure have changed in ten years.
I tie my hair in a ponytail, tuck mu super light yet super solid helmet under my arm and walk out towards the track. Outside, I’m welcomed by the crew under a rain of confetti, clapping and happy whistles. A crowd on fire.
“You guys are the worst.” I laugh, but secretly love it. Uncle Kam snaps a picture, holding up his IPhone 7 I’m sure he doesn’t know how to use.
“You look good, Siv.” He tells me while blinding me with flash. In bright daylight. Xav comes up to me, smiling, and zips me up completely.
“How does it feel?” He asks, putting his hands on his hips. I stretch the fabric a little.
“Warm.” I shrug. My heart is eating fast. I can’t believe I’m doing this. “Where’s my car?” I ask impatiently.
“Eli!” Kameron shouts, and I hear the loud roar of an angry engine. I look to the left and see, slowly pulling up at my level, A dark blue Kyosho TS020. It was repainted, I can see that, and there are a few bumps here and there, but it makes the same noise as a purring Lion.
“It’s…” I say, almost choking on my own words, my mouth hanging open in disbelief.
“It took us a while but we managed to put it back together.” Kam says proudly while Elijah gets out of the car.
“And we kept it, waiting for you to come back.” He beams at me. My heart warms and cools at the same time. I’m so happy they rebuilt it, but at the same time I hate it. Rings back too much memories I’ve tried to forget.
“Of course, we changed everything that wasn’t within the standards. It’s a brand new car in the body of the old one.” Elijah ads, leaning against the old jewel. Wow.
“I don’t want it.” I snap, because there is no way this could take me anywhere. “I don’t want to drive this junk heap. Give me your best car.”
“This is our-“
“No, this is bullshit!” I raise my voice. Everything goes silent around me. Everyone has these wide, surprised eyes, expect Kameron; His eyes are disappointed. It’s like he wasn’t even hoping at the first place.
“I’m here to move on, for fuck’s sake!” I remind them. When my eyes start to feel cold, I turn away from them, realizing there are tears in my eyes. There is no fucking way I’m crying on my first day. If I can’t make it today, then I won’t be able to make it at all, and they are trying to ruin it.
“I’m fine.” I snap, letting my tears dry. “Don’t try to make me a wimp, Kameron.” I mutter, turning back around. Uncle looks sad.
“I’m not a crybaby.” I tell everyone.
“No, but you’re human.” Kameron says quietly. I’m not human, I’m a driver.
He sighs and gets in the car, bringing it back to the garage, and comes back a few moments later, driving a crystal clear diamond.
“Bugatti Veyron.” I say to myself, watching the soft beast slowly making its way to me. This is definitely something. I put my helmet on.
The interior is as comfortable as a freaking cloud. Everything is soft and squishy. Wow.
I start the engine and go for a parade lap, zig zagging to heat the tires and test their adhesion. The acceleration is so smoot, I can’t explain it.
“Nice.” I say to myself.
“Don’t try to get crazy just yet.” Xav’s voice rings inside the car. They must have taken place in the booth on the top floor. “Get used to her.”
“Got it.” I reply.
I can’t help but tell myself that if everything feels so new to me, it’s because I’ve left tracks years ago, because my passion stole my happiness. Because, I’m scared to drive again.
“How is it going, Sivan?” This time, it’s Elijah speaking. “Sivan?”
“She’s easy.” I reply, continuing to zig zag, and the ride gets smoother and smoother. I pick up a little bit of speed. I don’t know if I love speed anymore. I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing.
I hear a noise. The sharp noise of a car coming from afar, another beast roaring behind me.
“Woah, woah, woah, Sivan!” Someone shouts in the mic. I swing the while to the right to close in on the fence while the other car barely misses me. When I realize I’m going to collide with the fence, I swing to the left and push on the brakes, and my car drifts and spins for a moment before coming to a stop.
I open my eyes, breathless and shocked, but not hurt. I’m alive. And I can’t believe this happened on my first day back on the tracks. Fuck! My heart is racing. Who’s the idiot who wen 200 mph while I was at 40? I unbuckle my seat and open the door, my legs feeling wooly. I push myself out of the car and take my helmet off to try and find the fucker who almost killed me.
“Who the fuck did this?!” I yell, throwing my helmet to the floor. I look around and find the car in question parked on the side of the road. There is a man in a dark blue racing suit who is taking his helmet off.
“Hey!” I call. The guy is some young Asian guy with dark brown hair and an arrogant face.
“You almost killed me, you bag of shit!” I shout at him. He hands his helmet over to some tall brunette without looking at her.
“The track is mine during this schedule. You’re not supposed to be here.” His tone is condescending, arrogant, disregarding and irritating. His eyes travel up and down my figure as I stomp towards him.
“Whoever you are.” He mutters when I’m in front of him. I actually can’t believe my fucking ears.
“Yours?” I repeat, snorting. The guy ignores me. He ignores me. He nods towards the submissive brunette how show him an IPad without a words. I snatch in from her hands, forcing them both to actually notice me.
“You try that one more time, and I swear to god, I’ll run you over any chance I get.” I threaten him, seriously. I could kill him if he ever pulled another stunt like that. He blinks at me two times and turns to his brunette.
“Who the fuck is she?” He asks her. The tablet collides with his jaw before I proceed what has happened.
“Sivan!” I hear people calling from behind me. I’ve just punched him with an I pad. The device comes crashing onto the floor, breaking in three, and he stumbles to the side. I watch him, huffing and puffing, my heart still racing furiously from the adrenaline rush.
“My god!” The brunette cries with a-high-pitched voice. The guy straightens up, holding the side of his mouth where he now has a bleeding cut. He takes a look at his bloody fingers and glares up at me. Now the bastard knows me. With a motion of his bloody hand, he summons his slave and she hands him a towel while everyone closes in around us.
“This is the last fucking time you set a foot in here, you hear me?” He declares, surprisingly calmly, while taking a few face towards me so were nose to nose. Well, more like nose to chin. He’s trying to intimidate me; be I am on conquered land. This is my place, my moment, and I’m not fucking with him.
“I don’t know who the fuck you are, but you’re over.” He says to me. His confidence is overwhelmingly funny. He really thinks he’s somebody.
“Yeah, you’ll get my own uncle to ban me from this place.” I mock, crossing my arms over my chest. The guy smirks and wipes the blood from the corner of his mouth.
“Kameron can’t ban you from this place.” He concurs. “It’s not his anymore.” He frowns, tilting his head to the side. My face falls as I turn around to look at my uncle for confirmation. At that moment, he lowers his head and looks at the ground, fidgeting with his rug. I turn back to Mr. asshole.
“You just punched the director.” He declares. I should have known his confidence came from somewhere. To a certain degree, he is somebody. And he stole my uncle’s race car school! He took my home from me. My blood starts to boil.
My fist collides with his cheek in a quick, mindful and I hope hard punch. Everyone gasps around me as the guy stumbles back. Hands grab my shoulders and pull me back as I try to come back at him and kick him in the balls.
“Bitch!” He curses, as two gorillas in a white T-shirt and black pants appear.
“Get her out of here!” He orders. The guy has security? What a freaking snob! If he thinks anyone is going to keep me away from my track, gorillas or not, he’s holding his breath and shoving his foot in his own ass.
“Who is he?” I grumble as Kameron places a bag of ice on my knuckles. We sit on the sidewalk in front of the school like two hobos. I’m still in my racing suit. He really did kick me out.
“Mark Tuan. US Champion twice in a row. He’s aiming for worlds this season.” Elijah says, emerging from inside with my bag swung over his shoulder.
“Don’t know him.” I mutter.
“You don’t know anything past 2007.” Uncle Kam snaps. Humph.
“I’ll see you tomorrow.” I declare, rising and grabbing my bag from Eli’s hand, the bag of eyes falling down to the ground. I swing it over my shoulders and walk back to my car. Mark Tuna whatever… fucking douchebag.
“Where?!” Kameron calls after me. “You’re banned from here.”
I turn around to face him. Never in my life have I been so sure of the words that come of my mouth.
“This place is more mine than his. He’s never taking that away from me.”