Image by Christine Renney
Watching the petrol gauge I wait and miraculously the tank is almost full. The motor turns and the radio comes to life; the disc jockey’s voice is loud and instantly familiar. I reach to switch it off but I fumble, making it louder and in order to deaden the banter I kill the engine.
Still a little flustered, I tug at the key but it won’t shift. It is jammed in the lock. I pull my hands away from the wheel and push back in the seat, convinced it is broken and that it won’t start again. I squint through the windscreen at the car parked in front and turning I check behind and find that the car, like the key, is stuck and I am trapped. I can’t move and I haven’t any choice but to sit and wait.
I could abandon the car and walk and of course eventually I will be forced to do just that. I don’t have any money and I have left my wallet in the house with the cash and credit cards, that for a spell at least would still work, but I won’t go back inside, not again.
Anyhow, I have fuel, granted it will only last for so long and take me just so far but it feels like enough and I want to make this last long drive and so I stay put.
I ease my foot off the accelerator and begin to slow down. The driver behind sounds his horn and I watch in the mirror as, gesticulating wildly, he pulls back. But locking his headlights onto high beam he edges closer and closer still until I can’t see. Squinting I lean close to the screen and I focus on a spot of light, the size and shape of a rugby ball that somehow, despite the glare, is managing to find its way and I follow.
I suspect that the road ahead is clear and he could easily pass, let me be, leave me to draw to a stop and abandon the car which, I suddenly realise, is what I intend to do but I don’t want him watching.
Slowly, ever so, ever so slowly, I come to a halt and still blinded I turn and peer through the rear screen. I suppose he can see me, my silhouette at least. I must be clearly defined in the bright and harsh blaze, like a convict exposed whilst attempting to escape, caught in that half crouch, uncertain as to whether he should still try for the wall or make his way back toward the cell block.
I shuffle around again and now all he can see is the back of the seat and the top of my head. I sit still, determined not to move, at least not before he does.