January 4, 2012 § 3 Comments
They’ve all been edging forward and stopping, edging forward and stopping, for what seems like an age.
Friday evening, the usual story – everyone’s got somewhere to be, somewhere beyond this awkward junction with its offset crossroads. The lights are timed to let three or four cars through at a time, but everyone’s pushing it, nipping through on amber. A bystander might suck his teeth and mutter about accidents waiting to happen and bloody impatient fools, but these people don’t care. They’ve edged along the road for long enough and each of them wants to be off, free, beyond the snaggle of this junction.
The woman in the red hatchback is impatient, can’t wait any longer, and so she makes a decision, presses the accelerator and slips through behind a white van with the orange light, which turns to red at the moment of her commitment. She cannot brake now, cannot retreat, must hold her nerve and follow the van across to the safety of the road opposite.
The large man in the vast saloon has also had enough of waiting, and he, too, is chancing his arm, turning right on the last of the amber.
Almost too late she realises that he isn’t going to stop turning, that she must swerve round him, flinging her car first one way and then the other as she braces herself for the sickening screech of the seemingly-inevitable impact.
It isn’t even a moment, this swinging and lurching; even as that passerby might be tutting over the man’s bullishness and the woman’s brass neck, the man is cursing the day a woman ever got behind the wheel, and she is driving away, shaking slightly at the imagined horror of any other outcome.