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The Car Park

She sat, watching the rain run in syrupy riverlets down the windscreen. Where did it go after that? She leaned forward, pressing against the steering wheel to peer into the gully running along the bottom of the screen.

The gully was clogged with leaves and detritus, reminding her of the layer of dust coating the surfaces at home, and the oven that she no longer dared open when her mother called. She lost interest in the rain water, slumping back in her seat, tapping her hands on the wheel and glaring at the steadily thickening mist coating the inside of the windscreen.

How many accumulated hours had she sat in this car park? Hours she would never see again, that was certain. And there were probably another three years of it. Sitting, looking through the rain at the grim grey building, waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

Of course, he was never early, rarely ever on-time. Mostly he was late. She told herself that she would arrive twenty minutes late next time, just to teach him a lesson. She knew she wouldn’t actually do it, but the thought of him having to stand there waiting for her for a change pleased her.

Where on earth is he?

She watched as a woman with an extraordinarily large hairdo manoeuvred a Saab through the maze of badly parked cars. She’ll never get that thing parked in here! She laughed aloud as the daft woman stopped to inspect the tiny space between her own car and the car behind.

Mirth turned to disbelief as the woman actually began attempting to park the behemoth in the space that was too small even for a mini. She watched nervously in her mirror as the Saab was slowly backed into the space at a right angle, wincing at the narrowing gap between it and her rear wing.

The Saab pulled forwards. Good, she’s realised it’s not going to happen. Good heavens, she’s trying again! It’s not going to fit, you stupid woman! She rested her hand on the handbrake, ready to release it and allow the car to roll forwards a little if necessary.

That would be the final straw! Getting clipped by a woman with too much hair and too much car! Yes, that really would crown it all! Sorry darling, dinner’s going to be late because Marty wouldn’t come out of school, I had a row with my boss and was given a verbal warning, oh, and the car needs a new bumper. How was your day?

Saab woman finally accepted that she was never going to squeeze her car into the space and pulled away, slowly scouring the car park for another motorist to terrorise. She relaxed. Come on Marty!

She stabbed at the radio button. A track from the eighties came on. Who was it? Good grief, she used to know them all! She tapped the rhythm on the door rest, smiling as the memories flooded back. Discos, boys, ra-ra skirts and shoulder pads. For a moment it seemed like yesterday.

But then the D.J. started prattling over the closing notes, and she was back in the here and now. The eighties were a long time ago. She couldn’t understand the D.J.s anymore. They didn’t seem to speak her language. So this is what she was. Mum. Wife. Sat in this wretched car park yet again, watching the rain slowly turn the gravel to sludge.

The first of the little darlings traipsed out, blazers dragging on the ground in defiance of the weather, backs bent under the weight of bags as big as suitcases. They shouted incoherent teen speak at each other, making gestures that she was almost sure were incredibly rude, before stomping ungratefully to their waiting parents.

In the distance, she could see one lad sprinting from the building, blazer on, bag flying as he hurried from the building. Good Lord, so some of them do actually like going home! She watched, incredulous, as the running figure leapt over puddles, laughing at the shouts of his mates.

Her mouth dropped open. Marty? The door sprang open and a wet and grinning face thrust itself into the car.

“Hi Mum!” it said, cheerfully. “Sorry I’m late! The clock in old Thompson’s classroom isn’t working and he forgot to let us go! How’s your day been?”

She smiled. “Not bad, Marty. Not bad at all. Getting better now.”


© 2009 Kay Lawrence.


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