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  • Jason Devaraj

The Ritual

Feeling the worn leather reminds him of the seats that used to cradle him as his father drove. Hearing the purr of the engine makes him remember his father's contagious smile whenever he floored the throttle on the freeway. Looking at its red paint makes him reminisce about spending every Saturday washing the exterior with him. But his father passed away five years ago and left him the '69 Mustang. Since then, he promised himself he would take care of it. And when the oil pressure gauge started to drop on the way back home, he remembered the ritual his father taught him. After searching the garage, he brings out Dad's rusty tool box and automotive ramps. Calmly, he feathers the throttle as he slowly climbs up the ramps, making sure to pull the e-brake before stepping out—his father would always remind him of this. He carefully maneuvers himself beneath the undercarriage, tools in hand, to avoid bumping into the front axle shaft or exhaust. His ratchet effortlessly breaks the seal between the oil pan and drain plug, allowing the rich black fluid to slowly pour into the drain pan. He twists on the filter and carefully pours in five quarts of Mobil-1 fully synthetic—the only oil his father ever used. At last, he ends the rite by gently setting down the hood. He sits down in the driver's seat and slides the key into the ignition, wishing he was beside him.

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