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  • Kabir Ruparelia

The Yellow Car Game

Years ago, the game had started on a whim. It was a hot summer day, and the sun blazed down on the black asphalt of our neighborhood streets. My best friend, Danny, and I were sitting on the curb, the soles of our shoes melting into the hot concrete. Bored and restless, we watched the cars pass by, one after another, until Danny spotted the first yellow car.

“Pinch, no punch, first yellow car!” he shouted, digging his fingers into my arm with a grin.

“Ow! Danny, what was that for?” I yelped, rubbing the spot where he’d pinched me.

“That’s the game!” he declared, eyes sparkling with excitement. “Every time you see a yellow car, you pinch someone. It’s like a surprise attack, but fun!”

From that moment on, the game became our secret code, a bond that linked us through countless summers and school years. We’d be walking home from school, hanging out at the park, or even riding in the backseat of my mom’s car, and the sight of a yellow car would send us into fits of laughter and playful pinches. It didn’t matter if the car was a taxi, a beetle, or a rare sports car; if it was yellow, it was fair game.

As the years passed, Danny and I grew inseparable. We shared secrets, conquered homework, and navigated the turbulent waters of adolescence together. But as high school approached… things began to change. We started to drift, our interests and social circles pulling us in different directions.

It wasn’t anyone’s fault, really..

Danny got into sports, while I gravitated towards the arts. He found a new group of friends on the basketball court, and I immersed myself in the theater club. Our after-school hangouts dwindled, the phone calls and texts became less frequent, and the yellow car game was all but forgotten.

This gray autumn afternoon, I find myself walking home alone. The sky threatens rain, and the air is thick with the scent of wet leaves. I pull my jacket tighter around me, feeling the chill seep into my bones. The streets are empty, safe for the occasional car passing by. I kick a lonely pebble down the sidewalk, lost in thought.

As I turn the corner onto my street, a bright flash of yellow catches my eye. A small yellow car zooms past, its color contrasting against the dreary backdrop. Instinctively, my hand twitches, reaching out to pinch Danny’s arm, but there is no one there. I glance around, the realization hitting me with a force that leaves me breathless. Danny isn’t there. Danny actually hasn’t been there for a long time.

The weight of loneliness settled heavily on my shoulders, an unwelcome companion. The game that once brought us so much joy now feels like a cruel reminder of what I’ve lost. I pinch myself, hard, the sting being a physical echo of the emotional pain that surged through me.

The days turned into weeks, and the weeks into months. I watch as Danny thrives in his new world, while I wander through mine, feeling more isolated with each passing day. The yellow cars continue to appear, but the pinches have lost their magic. They are no longer a symbol of our friendship, but a mark of my solitude.

One Saturday morning, I decided to take a walk to clear my head. The sky is a crisp, clear blue, and the air carries the promise of spring. I wandered through the old neighborhood, past the park where Danny and I used to play, past the school where we shared so many memories. I find myself at the edge of town, near a quiet stretch of road that led to the open countryside.

As I walk, a familiar yellow car approaches, its color vivid against the green fields. I stop and watch it pass, my heart aching with nostalgia. Without thinking, I pinch my own arm, the sharp sensation grounding me in the moment. I close my eyes and take a deep breath, feeling the sting fade.

It is then that I realize something priceless. The yellow car game isn’t just about Danny- It’s about the moments we shared, the laughter, and the bond that connected us. And even though we have drifted apart, those memories are still a part of me. They always will be.

With a newfound sense of clarity, I continued my walk, feeling lighter than I had in months. I know that the road ahead won’t be easy, but I also know that I’m not truly alone. The memories of my friendship with Danny are a part of who I am, shaping me into the person I’m becoming.

A few days later, as I was leaving school, I saw Danny across the parking lot. He was surrounded- as usual- by his basketball friends, laughing and talking animatedly. Our eyes met, and for a moment, I saw a flicker of the old Danny, the one I called best friend. I raised my hand in a small wave, and to my surprise, he waved back.

As I walked home, a yellow car passed by, its color bright and cheerful. I smile to myself and pinch my arm, feeling a sense of connection and hope. Maybe things will never be the same as they once were, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be good in a new way. The yellow car game was more than just a childhood pastime; it was a reminder of the bonds we form and the memories we carry with us, no matter where life takes us. 

Danny, I miss you.

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