The sun blazed at the highest point in the sky, polishing our foreheads with sweat. We weren’t always little rascals, but when the opportunity presented itself for the car to be stolen, both of us found it too delicious to ignore. The black car, about twice our height stood in front of my grand-aunt’s place, just under the balcony of the first floor. The boy in Kumasi and I crept onto the sticky leather seats, with me in the drivers seat, and him the passengers. We giggled and egged on one another to turn the key.
“Just turn the key” I whispered, as though someone could hear our devious plan on the quiet afternoon. “You turn it, I dare you” he replied. I looked at how my feet dangled above the accelerator, and pretended to steer the car, remarking in my head how easy it’d actually be to drive a truck like this … after all what more was there to a life-sized toy that consisted of a wheel, a clutch and some brakes.
After releasing the clutch, the car began to roll, emitting soft wheezing noises from its engine. The plan was to turn right at the gate and make a tour of the house. I twisted the wheel with the force of my entire arm, whilst the boy jerkily pressed down on the accelerator. We bickered and bickered so much so that neither of us noticed the once quiet compound filling with noise.
That day Kwame-Boakye wasn’t supposed to be at home yet. We’d timed the crime perfectly, and we’d seen an engine jet start multiple times. So then, when he suddenly jumped from the first floor balcony of the terracotta painted villa, and landed with both feet, toes sprawled out on the roaring car bonnet in which we sat, our mouths didn’t even have time to stand agap. We looked at each other with disbelief...
"RUN!" We both yelled.
A rumble of threats came from Kwame-Boakye, as he lunged forward to grab us. Narrowly escaping his hands, we scurried out of the vehicle as fast as we could. I sprang from the drivers seat to the back and out of the rear, barely landing on my hands on knees. We ran so fast, dodging the kids selling water and bread, or at least as fast as our seven year old legs could carry us that day. The boy turned left and sped toward Asokwa. I ran right but had little idea where I was going. I thought I’d lost Kwame-Boakye for long enough so I slowed down and threw my head back to face the sun.
My arms spread wide and grin even wider like that of a lizard's. For a brief moment, I considered the lizards I'd chase sometimes and wondered if they also felt such a thrill from being chased. Did they also grapple with the fear of losing freedom and their tales as they often escaped my grip? Later on, when the sun dimmed to an idea, and the dust had began to settle, I returned to my grandma's house with my tail between my legs. Punishment was imminent but all that mattered very little to me because for a brief moment early that day, I had tasted freedom and was hungry for more.