He always drove with the windows down. The windows down in spite of the weather, down to let the smell of cigarettes leak from the coarse steel-grey of the seats, to hide an addiction he promised his wife had been overcome. He leant toward the glovebox, felt it stick despite his pawing at the latch. His deodorant was in there, his deodorant and his gum, the twin defences against his wife’s inquisitions. He cursed, pounding his fist against the stubborn plastic. She mustn’t know, he could never confess his weakness. Finally, underneath his hammering the barrier relented, bringing with it new problems – how to explain the damage, where to hide his packet of self-inflicted cancer. Not that the cigs were solely to blame. Some of that responsibility would have to fall on the constant exposure to the thick black smoke reaching upwards to join the storm clouds above their heads. The world’s primary cancer cause billowing out from the smog machines his fellow motorists had parked amidst the gridlock.
Becalmed, they were, like sailors of old, stranded upon this ribbon of gunsmoke for what felt like an age. He felt his patience fray, felt the panic of cabin fever although he had only been stopped for five minutes. The rain clouds overhead opened, spilling forth their own new hazard for the frustrated drivers below.
The smell of rain on the warm bitumen conjured up memories of his childhood – of summer thunderstorms spent quivering under his blanket, the heavy weight of the sky on the day his father had walked out on them, yelling to be heard above the rumbling of the skies. Memories of the steely, biting shards of Winter’s arrows – his youth seemed dominated by storms.
He lit another cigarette as the traffic rumbled forward, inch by inch, woken from his contemplation of the flame by the braying horns behind him.
Slowly he made his way home.
Just a quick story for a site I just stumbled across (no copyright infringement there) Story-A-Day to be written in real-time. I may have cheated a little by bringing up his reminiscence of his childhood, but that’s what being stuck in traffic is like (without the profanity.) I kept it short to keep it interesting. As always, comments and creative criticism always welcome!