by Stephanie Hutton
Cherry blossoms fell onto the windscreen like sugared snow as she edged the car down her driveway. Waiting for a safe space, staccato breaths shadowed the tock, tock, tock of her indicator. She turned left. It wasn’t the quickest route to the supermarket. Her fingers had flicked the indicators of their own accord. She could trust left. It meant not crossing the traffic. No need to put herself in danger from some angry man. As she reached the edge of the city park, she turned left again.
The sun flashed in and out of striped clouds. Her hand reached to open the window, then stopped. The journey continued in the warm womb of her Fiat. Leftwards.
A sticky afternoon on the blocked motorway. On both sides, tattooed arms dangled from windows with smouldering cigarettes. Mixed messages of music from the cars surrounding her drummed in her ears. Her right thumb and index finger twisted a wedding ring that was no longer there. Each irate beep caused her to jump. A reflection of dark-ringed eyes and tight lips judged her from the rear-view mirror. The need to urinate was now screaming. The motorway layby would provide foliage to cover her. Or someone else, waiting.
She’d be asking for it.
She vomited into a plastic bag. Holding onto the seatbelt, she rehearsed times-tables until the traffic started to move.
Battered brown leaves covered the windscreen. The wipers swiped at them, trapping them in the back and forth movement. She parked on the drive and switched off the ignition. In the quiet of the evening, the roar seemed too brutal and invasive. She could get milk another day. Or maybe start drinking black tea. One hand rested on the door release. The other swirled clockwise over her tight full bump.
A bat swooped fearlessly between trees in the twilight, then disappeared from view.
“We want hot chocolate,” she said, pulling her coat into a hug around her moving middle.
She restarted the engine.
Ice thawed and droplets ran down the heated window. The neighbouring houses twinkled with festive lights. Her left hand rested on the comfort of Christmas presents on the passenger seat. As she waited at the lights, she leaned over to look in the rear-view mirror. Clear skin and upturned lips shone back. Adjusting the mirror she focused on the car-seat behind her. His peaceful podgy face.
“You look only like me.”
At the edge of the driveway, she quickly checked each way then eased the car to the right.
Stephanie Hutton is a writer and clinical psychologist in the UK who believes in the therapeutic value of short fiction. She can be found at stephaniehutton.com and @tiredpsych.