Opposite arrows with Left versus Right

First Gear Dilemmas
by Jessica Patient

Hugging the L-plates as we sat on an empty road, in the business park. Grey Lego-shaped buildings surrounded us. The rusty regal-blue Renault Megane chugged and rattled into life, spitting and choking out black smoke. At the time the leaking water pump was only a dribble not a gush.

Clutch down, foot trembling as I shoved the gearbox into first. You used to joke about the gearbox being stiff and at this rate I was going to end up with one lean arm and a beefed-up, toned arm. Learning to drive seemed even more undesirable. Hand gripping the handbrake, waiting for the car to feel the need to take off. Must. Not. Stall. The. Car.

“Indicate right,” you said.

The whole concept of left and right vanished from my head. I was going to have to use my old trick of writing “L” and “R” on my hands. But no pen — I was going to have to freestyle. Pulling down the indicator, the “right” arrow blinked on the dashboard. My little head did the “mirror-check dance” and I pulled away.

Changing to second gear as the car bumped and hopped. Twenty miles an hour felt fast, especially when a hulk-like lorry approached, swaying in the wind. My sweaty palms slipped around the steering wheel.

“I can’t squeeze between the lorry and the curb.”

“There’s plenty of space.”

I hunched my shoulders as the lorry drove past.

The car rocked.

“You’re on the verge.”

I closed my eyes. Only for a second.

A grinding noise of metal meeting concrete.

A clunk. We both looked at each other, and shrugged. Glancing up at the rear view mirror and there it was one, perched on the curb — the exhaust.

Finally, I was free to be a pedestrian again.

IMAGE: “Left versus right” by stanciuc, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This piece started out much longer than intended and has expanded and shrunk on many occasions, as if it were on a quick-fix diet followed by binging. I only applied for my provisional driving licence because I have a baby face and was always getting ID for buying paracetamol but now several years down the line I own a Mini.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jessica Patient is sometimes a writer, reviewer, blogger. Sometimes in that order. Jessica lives in Bedfordshire, UK. Visit her at writerslittlehelper.blogspot.com.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Taken at the London Transport Museum, 2016. Imagine parallel parking a double decker!