Sally-Anne Wilkinson’s New Short Story – STUCK IN TRAFFIC

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You know, Rick, everyone says you can always count on me to be around if you want something to go wrong.

Take today for instance – first day of car-sharing and what happens?  It’s kind of funny if you think about it.  Look at all the cars.  None of us are moving anywhere for a while.

Thinking back, it’s all Florence’s fault.  A real busybody if ever I met one.  You can’t tell her a thing without it ending up around the office, and then, on top of that, she’s so interfering.  I’ve lost count of the times she’s caused a stink over nothing, solving problems when there wasn’t an issue in the first place.  And this match-making and arranging people’s lives – what’s that all about then?

Oh sorry, I forgot, you don’t know her that well.

She thinks she has an Elastoplast for everything.  We all say there’s no end to her skills.  Such-a-body, have you met thing-a-me-bob?  Or, don’t you two look nice together?  And, like now, you two live near each other, don’t you?  Maybe you could car share? Save a few bob.  I’ve felt like telling her, you know, maybe sometimes you could keep your mouth shut.  But then I’d hurt her feelings, and I hate upsetting people.

Are you the same?

I could tell you wanted to say no.  Don’t deny it – I could tell.  I mean, new job, first week at work.  We’ve never had a chance to speak past fancy a brew, have we?  You could have ended up with anyone.  Can you imagine?  You might have had to trawl back and forth every day with a real bore?  Or someone with an opinion on everything.

Like Beryl.

You know, in Finance?

Yeah, the one with the tight perm, and the glasses that make her eyes look like oversized marbles.  She’d be tough to put up with every morning, wouldn’t she?

You couldn’t even put the radio on to drown her out.   She says she gets feedback in her hearing aid.

You okay?

You don’t look so clever.

Gets stuffy in here, doesn’t it, after a while?

Do you think we’re late yet?  I bet they’re just starting to complain.  Where are they?  Both of them late.  Florence will be tutting, like she does.  Especially as she’s always early.

But then, maybe she’ll learn to keep her nose out in future.

Perhaps they’ve heard the traffic announcement?  Everyone knows this road – three lanes of traffic; jam packed.  And then, when you’ve got rain, like today, it only makes it worse.  It’s a nightmare.  When there’s an accident, you’re trapped.  The lanes are blocked and you can’t go anywhere.  Sometimes for hours.

At least if they’ve heard it on the radio, they’ll know.  I don’t know about you – I always feel like I’m making up excuses, even when I have a good reason for being late.

Sorry, I need to shut up.

It passes the time though, eh?

I’m getting married, you know?  Next month.  If we ever move from here.  You can come if you like.  Chris will kill me for inviting someone else, but the more the merrier, I say.  Do you think you’ll come?  There’s the gang from the office, so there’s people you know.

I never thought I’d get married.  I didn’t seem to meet the right bloke, but Chris, he’s the best.  My friends say I’m fussy, but what’s fussy about wanting someone decent?  I don’t want someone who looks like a film star.  Though, to be honest, I wouldn’t complain if he did.  I just want someone who looks at me like he’s made the right choice; that I’m the only one for him.  I’m not a beauty, I know that, but if a guy’s with me, he shouldn’t ogle other girls.  Well he might, but not while I’m standing right next to him.  We all like a sneaky glance if we see a looker, don’t we?   Nothing wrong with that.  But show some respect, please.

Do you hear that?

A siren, I think.

About time.

My daughter, Molly, she’s five.  You knew I had a daughter, didn’t you?  That’s why I got you to pick me up at the school – I had to drop her off at the breakfast club first.  She’s absolutely gorgeous.

Me and her dad didn’t work out, you know?

It’s a shame.  But if it’s not right, and you can’t fix it, what’s the point in staying together?  Life’s too short, isn’t it?  She wants a sister, and I said that if I can give her a sister, I will. Chris loves kids.  Wants truckloads of them.  We’re going to start trying right after the wedding.  But don’t tell work – I’ve only just finished my training.

You know – you’re quiet.   You okay?

It shouldn’t take too much longer, I hope.

Weird, isn’t it, how you can be doing one thing, and the next minute, everything changes?   I didn’t see that car coming at all.  Did you?

Straight out of nowhere.  Dangerous at those speeds.  Especially in wet weather, too.  Some people are nuts.  Should be banned from the roads.

We got off lightly, though, eh?  Looking at the state of the other cars.  I can’t even see into that one over there.  The windscreen’s covered in blood.

You know, you look pale.

I don’t feel too good either.  If I’m honest.   Bit breathless.

Someone’ll be here soon, though.  Eh?

Can you hear that?

It’s groaning.

And I think a baby’s crying.

A while back, someone screamed.  It sounded like it was right in here.

It’s a mess, isn’t it?  I wonder how the ambulance’ll get through?

We’ve been here a while.

I’m getting cold.  What about you?

You alright?

Rick?

Rick?

Rick?

Rick, are you alright?

Open your eyes, Rick.

Open your eyes.

Open your eyes.

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