“Come on!” Mags gritted her teeth and cranked the key with all her strength. Her breath puffed around her in the cold air. The Bel Air’s engine only continued to gutter.
“You know, brute force isn’t what makes it start.” Nadine was leaning against the rear fender, her cigarette’s glow flaring on the collar of her fake fur coat and her perfectly-flicked eyeliner.
“Well, it’s the only thing I know to try.” Mags got out, yanking her miniskirt down to cover as much of her legs as possible, and huddled against Nadine. Her top half was fairly warm under her wool coat, scarf, and beret, but her legs were freezing. “If we don’t freeze to death, Dad’s going to kill me.”
Nadine grinned. “What, for borrowing his car without permission and sneaking off to the Beatles concert through a foot of snow with your secret girlfriend? What’s the big deal?”
“And playing hooky to drive through said snow. Don’t forget that part.” Mags sighed and reached one hand out of the warmth of her coat sleeve. “Give me a drag.”
Nadine handed over the cigarette. Mags inhaled deeply and exhaled in an anxious hiss. “Do you have money left? We could take a bus.”
Mags could barely see Nadine’s head shaking, she was so deeply burrowed into her coat. “There’s no way the buses are running in this weather,” came her muffled response. “And that still leaves your dad’s car in DC.”
Mags took another deep puff of Nadine’s cigarette and handed it back. “Well, if we don’t beat feet, I won’t be back in bed by morning and then I’ll really be in trouble. Time to get help.”
She trotted off across the slushy parking lot, wrapping her coat tighter around her shivering body. Nadine followed, humming “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” In defiance of the cold and the arena’s policies, a group of fans was still clustered near the Coliseum’s doors, their laughter echoing off the high brick walls.
Mags hopped up to sit on a nearby concrete half-wall, then swung her legs up. Nadine offered one warm hand to help her stand.
The Mags of a year ago would never have done something like this. Then again, the Mags of a year ago still hadn’t found the courage to kiss Nadine, nor would she have dared weave a web of lies to ensure they got to see the Fab Four live.
What a square that Mags was.
“Hello, everyone!” Mags threw her arms wide. Several members of the crowd looked her way. Mags ignored their giggles; she needed to focus on keeping her balance anyway. “I’ve got a cigarette and a kiss for anyone who can get my car started!”
Nadine’s indignation at having her cigarettes given away was drowned out by the whistling and hollering that ensued.
“I’ll start your engine, sweetie!”
“What brand cigarette?”
The last came from a girl at the edge of the crowd: Ellie, a fellow senior and the star of the girls’ basketball team. She was sharing a plaid blanket with Nancy, another girl from their class, who was looking up at Mags dubiously.
“I can take a look,” Ellie said, grinning, “My uncle is a mechanic, and my brother and I are always helping him for kicks.”
“Righteous!” Mags hopped down from the wall with a sigh of relief. “I really thought we were going to be stranded here. You’re boss, Ellie.”
“Cigarette, as promised?” Nadine presented one with fingers shaking with cold.
“No thanks.” She sent a sidelong smile at Mags. “I don’t need the kiss, either.”
Mags glanced at Nancy, whose expression was unreadable: pride, maybe, or defiance. Mags nodded. Nancy nodded back.
They huddled around Ellie while she worked, taking turns holding the heavy flashlight Mags found in the trunk. Eventually Ellie slammed the hood.
“Did you fix it?” Mags asked excitedly.
“Whatever it is, I can’t figure it out. Sorry.”
Mags and Nadine exchanged terrified glances.
Ellie held up one grease-smudged finger. “But,” she continued, “We can tow you back home. It’ll be slow, dangerous, and probably illegal –”
“We’re in,” Mags and Nadine said together.
“Thanks, Ellie,” Mags said fervently.
“Us girls have to stick together,” Nancy added.
So Mags and Nadine huddled in the back seat of the Bel Air, keeping each other’s hands warm while they waited for Ellie, singing their favorite lyrics from that night back and forth to each other.