he hits the horn again, aimed at no one in particular, knowing it will have no effect
except to make the world around her just a little bit worse. Here she is, trapped in
gridlock with no end in sight.
For most people, it’s an inconvenience. Just another necessary evil in a long bastard of a day. For her, it’s life or death. This is the way she feels about everything, all day long. Somehow she keeps on living. This time, though, she could lose her job.
She looks at the clock. Seven minutes left. If she gets there late, at best they’ll take it out of her pay. Again. She puts her hand on the lid of the cardboard box in the passenger seat. Lukewarm and fading. And there goes her tip, too.
The right lane opens up and she makes her move, hitting the gas and swerving in front of a rusty old Civic. She flashes the finger in the rearview before the other driver can honk.
Her lane is wide open ahead. She’ll show them thirty minutes or less. She crushes the pedal, flashing by all the gawking commuters on her left.
Then she sees a flash of orange dead ahead and realizes why the lane was so open in the first place. She waits until the last minute and then screeches to a stop. The sound shocks the driver of the hatchback on her left enough that she can jam herself in front before he can do anything about it.
A green sign above, like a beacon on a rocky coast, tells her the exit is just another hundred metres or so. Four minutes left, time for extraordinary measures.
She swerves left into the carpool lane, accepting honks from all comers. They don’t know she has a passenger. Twelve slices of cheese and pepperoni. Cheese already stiffening in rigor mortis as it cools. She jumps ahead a few more car lengths and then hops right, then left, right again, more honking, screeching tires, brushing bumpers, windows rolling, new curse words birthed, and then there she is—running up the ramp to freedom.
All that mess left behind her for someone else to deal with.
Two minutes left. Just enough time. To make the right on Broadview, make the left onto Victor, make it to fifty-four just in time.
She pulls through the stop sign without looking and something crashes onto the hood of her car, windshield spidering with cracks. She jams on the brakes, but whatever she’s hit grabs a hold of the wipers to keep from falling off.
A man in red spandex, mask over his eyes and rabbit ears. He’s pressed against the remains of the windshield, staring at her, cross-eyed, with a grin like an escaped mental patient.
She looks at the clock. She’s going to be late. It can’t be avoided. All she can do is feel annoyed.
Remember when you were a minipop, and you saw that film, you know, the one you loved that never had a sequel? Well, let's say it did. And it was just like you imagined it, only a little bit worse.