Traffic Jam

Maila drummed her fingers on the steering wheel. The taxis and trucks ahead were slowing down, stopping. She had no choice but to follow suit. She slammed on the brakes angrily. The glowing dashboard digital clock read 2:37. She was the first speaker on the agenda, scheduled for 3:00 pm. “If you’re late again, we won’t wait.” Marissa had been adamant. “Claude can start. He’s always on time.”
Claude lived in another decade. Another century. To hear him talk, bikes, buses and greenways were the wave of the future. “Slow Down and Live” was his campaign motto. What a loser. Hers was “Full Speed Ahead”, the same words on her husband’s luxury-car business brochures. All the town leaders knew a luxury car was in their immediate future if she were elected mayor. What could Claude give them? A fleet of bicycles? A bus pass? She laughed out loud, which made her splitting headache tighten its grip.
“Mike can stall them,” she thought. Her husband carried a lot of weight in town. She couldn’t get a signal, but someone in the car to her left seemed to be chatting away on a cell phone. She rolled down her window to yell for their help. Exhaust fumes and road rage washed over her. She leaned her pounding head against the steering wheel and closed her eyes.
She was 12 years old, skipping happily down the sidewalk, heading back home after an afternoon with her friend. A middle-aged man rode by on a cargo bike filled with a bag of groceries and gifts. Strawberry bubble bath for her mom, a purple scarf for her. He turned to wave; she screamed.  And screamed. And screamed.
Her head jerked up from the memory. Any of her husband’s state-of-the-art cars could easily have swerved out of the path of that truck. Claude’s ideas were dangerous.
She had to get to that meeting. She had to get elected. The only thing that stood between her and utter darkness was her aluminum and glass fortress, her protection from the world.
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Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe (@eric-radcliffe)
1 year ago

Hi Fuji, did you feel yourself writing this at full pace, trying to keep up with the flow of ideas? I read it at the speed dictated by you, the writer. That’s something I became aware of when reading, and then the accident to the little girl slows everything down. Is there a moral here in this story? Maybe! Fuji I liked the ending, it leaves me thinking what if?

Susan Dawson
Susan Dawson (@susan-dawson)
1 year ago

A very strong storyline made more stirring by the lapse into history and back again.

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
1 year ago

Your story really reflects on the world today, so many people rushing around at full speed fighting to be at the top of their game. What they don’t realise is that they are completely missing the beauty of the world around them; light sparkling through water droplets as the starling takes a bath in a puddle, patterns left on the sand by the retreating tide, tiny, jewelled insects, the trilling of a grasshopper, the scent of lavender. It is these small things in nature that can give the greatest joy. Take pause from the materialistic things in life. Stop and smell the roses. I can definitely identify with Claude!

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Sandra James
Sandra James (@sandra-james)
1 year ago

I live in a beautiful rural area but sometimes need to travel through our state capital, Melbourne. I am sure I’ve seen Maila in a neighbouring car, in fact I’m sure she can be found on most busy roads 🙁 If only she, and her clones, could read your story, reflect and begin to see a bigger (and better) picture. Great message and very well written 🙂

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
9 months ago

Hello, Fuji. I really like the motto: “ Slow down and live ”. Sometimes we have to slow down so we don’t stumble and get hurt in a hurry. Because sometimes in our haste we don’t have time to look around. And we miss looking at the little things that give us true happiness like the beauty of nature, etc. I agree with everything Carrie said.

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