Stopping Traffic

It feels like a typical weekday morning. I’m running the usual 10 minutes behind schedule. In a minute I’ll rush out the door with wet hair, and inevitably forget something. I’ll hope that it’s not my phone or keys or, worse, coffee.

Driving the snowy, congested city streets to school, there’ll be little concern for what’s about to happen. There’ll be a Starbucks across the street when my car stalls in the busy and impatient lefthand turning lane.

Inside the Starbucks, Archer, who is the same age as my son, will be sitting with his mom at the community table. Sipping my americano, I’ll marvel at his ability to say words like “garbage truck” and “school bus”. My son can’t say those words yet. Anxiety will wrestle my heart, and I’ll remind myself that they all develop at different rates. Still my shallow breaths will leave me spinning in my head for awhile.

“Someone’s car is blocking traffic!” a lady will interrupt as if every costumer and worker has not witnessed the commotion happening outside of the vast storefront windows. The barista will run outside with the yellow cone that reads Caution! Wet Floor and place it behind my car.

“That’s my car,” I’ll admit to Archer’s mom. She’ll be sympathetic as I explain to her that I’m waiting for a tow truck. She’ll turn to Archer and say, “You’re going to love seeing the tow truck pull the car away!”

Sylvester will be here soon. He’s the tow truck driver. He’ll be friendly. He’ll save the day.

As I grip and turn the steering wheel, three pedestrians will appear in my rearview mirror to help Sylvester push it out of the intersection. Their kindness will spark an overwhelming feeling of community that’s been missing inside me. I’ll hold the feeling tightly, and I’ll fight with it when it tries to leave. I’ll turn to look back at the Starbucks and hope to see Archer and his mom watching from the window.

Sylvester will insist that I wait inside the truck while he chains up my car. My fingers and toes will warm up, but my americano will be cold.

Saul, the mechanic, will be out buying parts when we arrive at the garage. He’ll say that it’s fine to leave the car in the lot.

It’ll be time for Sylvester to leave. He’ll give me a concerned look, and I’ll tell him about the diner that I like around the corner.

For a long minute, I’ll stand alone in the small cluttered car lot that feels suddenly and painfully empty. I’ll make a decision to walk past the diner and hop on the blue line train. The train will take me home to my husband and son.


5 thoughts on “Stopping Traffic”

  1. I really enjoy the pacing of your story. It was exciting to read. My favorite part was when you were realizing you were being self-critical, worrying about your son’s development compared to Archer’s.
    I could relate to all of it, until you went home. I’m afraid I would have to go on to work at that point! Anyway, I appreciate your candor and depth in this series of small frantic moments.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice piece! I like the way you showed us the entire experience of your car breaking down, right down to your decision to take the train. Great details – I felt like I was there.


  3. So many things I liked about this piece. I especially like your choice of verb tense…they’ll be…by telling it using future tense, it gives a certain kind of honest reflection as you encounter each person. And I like all the details about each person involved in “stopping traffic”.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ahh- loved this story! Did this happen this morning?! My favorite line was “My fingers and toes will warm up, but my americano will be cold.” You wove together the seemingly unrelated parts and characters of this story brilliantly. It’s so fun to hear your voice, dear friend!


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